11 July 2005

Twelve Rules

Many years ago, Ben Stein, he of the monotone delivery, highly-praised intelligence and arch-Republican leanings (he was once a speech-writer and apologist for Richard Nixon) wrote a column that appeared in Penthouse magazine.

Yes, Penthouse.

One of those columns mentioned "Twelve Rules" that Stein found very useful in his daily life and that The Jenius copied out onto a small laminated card. That card has been in The Jenius' wallet for almost 20 years. The Twelve Rules are:

1) I am basically powerless over most of the people I deal with in my work.

2) I am largely powerless over the results of the projects I undertake.

3) Feelings come and feelings go and they are not facts.

4) I am never going to be perfect.

5) Time is my ally, not my enemy.

6) Keep it simple.

7) First things first.

8) Look for the good and praise it.

9) I am often wrong.

10) Make yourself and your wishes clear.

11) Pause when agitated or doubtful.

12) In every situation, I must ask myself if I am the problem.

The advantage of almost 20 years' experience with these rules is that One accumulates enough evidence to prove that they are almost always right. One can argue that the first 2 Rules, concerning limited personal power, are wrong. In fact, any objective study will show you that personal talents, influence and efforts seldom guarantee success. (Ask Michael Jordan if he won every basketball game.) What's important is to understand those limitations and stop forcing issues, a surefire formula for ultimate failure.

Rule #5 increased My productivity as it made clear that time was Mine to use, not that Time was using Me.

Rule #6 focused My tendency to be creative and thus avoid the "snowstorm" effect of too many ideas flying through the air.

Rule #8 made Me a better leader, a more effective co-worker and helped Me feel good as a father.

Rule #9 has helped keep Me humble. Not much, though.

Rule #10 made Me a better communicator and thus a better negotiator, something that always benefits the bottom line.

Rules 11 and 12 have kept Me from making bigger mistakes and have often been the difference between success and failure in many a project.

I fail often to remember Rule #3, but not as often as I used to.

Rule #4 is wrong, but then again, Rule #9 leaves Me with an Open Mind on the subject.

Maybe these Twelve Rules will be useful to You as well.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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