- Change happens. The only thing which doesn’t change is something which is dead. We all change; it’s called life. Some change is good, some is bad; that’s called evolution. You can either fight change or go with it. Fighting it is destructive; you can’t stop change, so much better to go with it and see what opportunities are presented.
- Life isn’t fair; deal with it. Things aren’t always going to go your way, and neither should they. If they did we would never learn. There is nothing you can do about most of the unfairnesses and stupidities, so quit worrying about them and let them flow over you. Accept it when things don’t go your way, try to understand why, and move on.
- Live the now. Go for it; grasp opportunities when they’re offered. As my wife’s favourite aunt used to say: “I take my treats as they come.” That doesn’t mean you should always live for the here and now, and never plan ahead. Clearly there is a balance. But don’t shut yourself off from the present and from opportunities because you’re worrying about what might happen – it might not and you will have missed out!
- Trust your gut instinct, but consider the consequences of your actions. We all spend too much time thinking and worrying. Yes, we must be aware of the consequences of our actions – not to do so is selfish and would ultimately lead to anarchy (as well as violating rule 7). But don’t over-analyse. There comes a time, usually sooner rather than later, to make a decision. Go for it. Sometimes despite your head’s better judgement your gut instinct will say: “but that isn’t the right choice for me”, “it doesn’t feel right”, “I know it’s risky but that’s what I really have to do”. Trust your gut and your heart to make the right choice. If we only ever trusted our heads, we’d never fall in love!
- Learn; don’t regret. We can only ever make the best decision we can at the time with the information available. We usually don’t have enough information or we’ll make a wrong choice. There is no point looking back and regretting your decision, or worrying about what might have been; you can’t change the decision; you did the best you could at the time. Try to understand why your choice was not the best and move on. I always say I have no regrets; I admit there are things I have done which I should not have done and wouldn’t do again, but I hope I’ve learnt from them and that is valuable – so why should I regret having done them, except perhaps in as much as it hurt other people.
- Communicate. Probably the biggest cause of things going wrong or misunderstandings is a lack of communication. We always say that communication is the most important factor in any marriage/relationship; and it’s true. But it applies equally to everything we do. If you don’t communicate, how do others know what you think, what you’re going to do, or what you want them to do? And communication doesn’t mean just talk; it isn’t all one way: you outwards! It means listen as well; listen hard and properly to what is being said to you; make sure you understand it.
- Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. This is perhaps most important of all; if you can achieve this most of the rest will follow. It is the cornerstone of my personal management method (which I call “Ethical Management” although it’s really about getting the best from people – but that’s something for another day). It isn’t “do to others before they do unto you” as seems so common today. It is “do to others what you would like them to do to you”. If you treat other people fairly then the wheels will turn more easily. People are like wasps: they’re essentially good; respect them and they’ll respect you; they only get vindictive when you get snotty with them. Don’t just screw someone for your personal short-term gain. Don’t do things to gratuitously annoy someone. Try to understand the world through their eyes. Why are they in a grumpy mood? Sympathise – better empathise -- with them. Understand that it isn’t they who made that error and try to help them to help you to put it right. The Dalai Lama’s word is compassion, meant in its broadest sense. Treat others with compassion.
I would commend these to anyone. OK maybe not in this form until that someone is in their teens, at least, but I’m sure they can be packaged in suitable words for people of any age.