On Business and Life: Thoughts from a Muse

Over the course of years I have spouted off to those brave enough to get within earshot.  Several of you foolish enough have asked me to write my thoughts for reasons unknown.

I guess I’ll start with the last idea first.

A desire to create is an essential human quality which is almost spiritual in nature.  In some ways, it partially explains the vast amount of religious art produced throughout human time.  Strangely enough it is also a possible explanation for self destructive behavior; imagine the combination of  frustration from belief that creation is beyond your ability combined with the certain knowledge that creating havoc is within your scope.  Personal morals dictate the outcome after this realization.

Once the above awareness is gained, several ideas present themselves.  For instance: before you can create, learning must take place.  That may seem obvious, but there is value in not glossing over that notion.  I’ve found that routinely and regularly, happiness is found in learning.  The frustration of challenge followed by a rush of pleasure experienced when all is clear.  Heady stuff!

In many ways the pursuit of happiness boils down to the pursuit of knowledge.  Hasn’t this been one of the driving forces throughout human history?  Knowledge is power!

In the best dramatic traditions here is a countdown of guidelines that have survived the test of time.

Guidelines vs. Rules:

It is almost a law of nature.  If you establish a rule one will generally have to establish an exception.  Of course an exception is another rule, which will eventually require an exception of its own, etc.   Taken to the extreme, this progression continues to a point where remembering all the ‘rules’ is impossible.  Instead, you document them; in the most extreme cases, this list of rules must be searched with a computer!

Now let us consider the case of Guidelines.  A guideline is a template for thought.  The key point is that a well crafted guideline explains what goals are and relies on an individual’s ability to make choices consistent with the guideline.  It implies that the decision maker is empowered to use their own native intelligence to consider the problem, while receiving assurance that the decision is consistent with shared goals.

Teach them to fish:

Closely relate to the prior observation is the ancient idea that teaching a hungry man to fish will feed him for a lifetime.  In many ways, guidelines are ‘teaching a man to fish’; empower the individual, yourself or those around you, and all involved will grow.

And now without further ado and again in reverse order…

My Guidelines for modern living:

F.)           Reality and truth are dependent on point of view and therefore best considered as ‘subject to change’.

E.)           Repeatable, Manageable and Supportable are the cornerstones of integrity.

D.)          Finding oneself of more than one mind on a question is a clear indicator that insufficient information is available to reach a valid decision.  As a result it is often wise to postpone making that decision until more data can be gathered.

C.)          ‘Should’ and ‘Supposed to’ are the two most dangerous phrases in the English language.

B.)          If it is not clear how everybody involved wins don’t do it.

And finally…

A.)        There is no valid motivation that is not a selfish motivation.


Authors note:  While a great many people of contributed to these philosophies and I thank them, the author accepts full responsibility for assembling them in this way.

Homepreneurs note: Don is a close friend, mentor, and former co-worker.  He has started, operated, and closed many businesses and projects over the course of two plus decades.  Don’s ethics, insight, and creativity are beyond comparison in an increasingly challenging workplace.


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