A Simple Set of Rules for a Fulfilled Life and a Successful Career.
Updated: May 21, 2019
To simplify the complicated, I thought I would write down the way I am trying to live myself these days. Of course I don’t always get it right because I am human. These help to keep me focused. Hopefully nothing too trite - just no-nonsense, easy to follow rules that can help me be at my best; and thus enable others around me to be at their best too.
Life is a continuous voyage of personal discovery. In my own journey, I am starting to work out what’s important and, perhaps much more crucially, what’s not important; in the creation and re-enforcement of the foundations for a fulfilled life. I have summarised what I have learnt so far into a simple set of 7 rules for life and work (Tim Minchin style - although he had 9):
No.1: First and foremost, don’t be a dick. This is at no.1 because it is the most important thing. I try very hard on this point. We’ve all been dicks at times - I know I have but please, please try not to be. I have learned that despite some people believing it to be the case, being a dick never (ever!) gets the best out of situations and/or people; and it nearly always backfires in the end… even if there are short term results.
No.2: Stay open and listen to others’ perspectives. So long as this perspective sharing helps make me better in some way. But, and this is important, I feel OK to consciously stop listening when it is no longer useful and/or helpful. I have learned that we all have different points of view in life and work… and that is OK… because it is part of life’s rich tapestry.
No. 3: Be kind and compassionate; to yourself and to other people - always. To yourself because so much of life’s suffering is created in the mind. To the people who work for or with you, the person serving you a coffee or the person selling you a train ticket. They are people just like you, people trying to make their way in the world. I am lucky enough to find myself in a position of privilege, so this makes the obligation to be kind is much, much greater. I have learned that the simple act of being kind to those people around me amplifies and becomes infectious; making the world around me a much better place.
No.4: Being a leader of any form (in business or indeed in life) requires authenticity, integrity, humility and vulnerability as a bedrock. Then on top of these: simplicity, clarity and consistency are crucial. I have learned that if I want people to really engage with, and care about, what I think and what I say then I need to walk the talk. That way I can be more assured that people will also be there to help you out when you need them most.
No. 5: Be true to your values. In a world of false perfection (as seen on Instagram, Facebook, momentarily on Snapchat) it is very easy to get carried away and live life out of alignment with values you hold as most important. So rather than feeling fulfilled you risk ending up feeling like something is missing. I have learned that if you make all of life’s decisions through the lens of your values it can create a calmer mind and then increased clarity…. in an ever more murky world.
No. 6: Rumination does not help. Ever. Accept life on life's terms. Time spent over-thinking about the past or worrying about the future is not useful. We can’t live life again and we also don’t possess a crystal ball. The moment right now is the only one you can realistically control. So, live it. I have learned through mindful meditation that training the mind to be more present better enables life lessons 1 through 5.
No 7: That happiness in life is not brought in the material things that we have or that we covet. Or the jobs we do. Or the promotions we get. Nor is it the status we believe we have or the money we earn. These things can definitely provide short term gratification but don’t bring true, centred, happiness; because there is always the next thing and the next thing. This relentless pursuit of the next thing will ultimately make you miserable and probably depressed. I have learned that happiness is ever present and can be brought about in the moment by following lessons 1 through 6.