I recently celebrated my 40th birthday!
Over the past 4 decades I have tried so many things, made so many mistakes, got a few things right and learnt so many lessons.
This felt like a good milestone at which to pause, look back and look forward. An opportunity to reflect on life, to gather the accumulated wisdom that people have shared with me and write down the essential principles that I want to live my life by. Having recently completed Ray Dalio’s book “Principles”, I’ve been determined to write mine down and share them.
Version 1 of my principles for life and work are captured here primarily for my reference, for those that live and work with me, as well as maybe those who are reflecting on their own principles.
- Be yourself. Know yourself. Lead yourself.
- Self discovery is the most meaningful work of our lives.
- You cannot help/love/lead others until you help/love/lead yourself.
- We need to stretch our limits to recognise our blind spots, biases and ego.
2. Seek out difference, diversity and challenge.
- People are different, are wired differently and have different values.
- We have the most to learn from those that are most different to us.
- You can see more by considering different perspectives.
3. Give time, attention & knowledge generously – without expecting anything in return.
- Everyone is on a journey, it is helpful to understand where they have come from and where they are going.
- Seek out the potential in everyone you come across and give people freedom and responsibility to unleash it.
- It takes practice to love, give, sacrifice and serve selflessly (this is the essence of all religions).
4. Embrace decision making, control the controllables and focus on the important (not urgent).
- Consult as widely as possible but don’t rely on the consensus to make the best decisions.
- Everyone doesn’t have to agree, it’s ok to give your opinion, debate vigorously, disagree with a decision and still commit.
- Magic happens when you can align individual ambitions and passions with collective goals and aspirations.
5. Be a truth seeker and a truth speaker.
- Be curious, ask questions and challenge the status quo.
- Face harsh realities and address the elephants in the room.
- Care enough to give open, constructive and candid feedback always.
6. Success & failure (happiness & suffering) are two sides of the same coin.
- Change is inevitable, accept whatever life throws at you with open arms (don’t be a victim).
- Guard against complacency in your good times, when things are going well.
- Know that your greatest learning happens during times of sorrow, suffering and failure.
7. We are all connected (to those that came before us, those that will follow and those we share this Earth with).
- So many have sacrificed so much for us to be where we are today.
- Take responsibility for the consequences of your decisions and actions.
- We cannot live a purposeless life, when we stand on the shoulders of giants.
As I said earlier, this is version 1 – a starting point to practice and improve upon.
My principles to date been inspired by – Pandurang Shastri Athavale (Dada), Jayshree Talwalkar (Didi), Swami Vivekananda, Steven Covey, Huston Smith, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Patrick Lencionni, Clay Christensen, Charles Duhigg and most recently Ray Dalio.
That’s not it though – my wife, parents, family, friends and colleagues have all played a huge part. As they say it takes a village to raise a child, so many people have guided me, shaped me and moulded me into the person I am today. There’s still so much to learn and discover, I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many generous people who continue to help on my journey of self discovery and development.