Archive for the 'Principles' Category

Guiding Principles and Questions You Should be Able to Answer

I really love brief lists of principles/questions that are able to succinctly capture the myriad life lessons of some really complex settings and scenarios. I have included 3 of my favorites below. They demonstrate some really important core principles as well as some questions you should be able to answer if what you are doing is at all worthwhile. They also show that there is no one-size-fits-all list. Senator Mikulski’s list is great for dealing with the pace and inefficiency of the Senate, 37Signal’s list is great for working on short term projects, and the “5 Questions” list is great for addressing some more abstract life goals.

“BAM(US Senator Barbara Ann Mikulski)’s Principles” 

1. We cannot always guarantee an outcome, but we can guarantee an effort.

2. Always be clear about: “What is the objective we seek?”

3. Goals should be specific, immediate, and realizable.

4. Just move it.

37Signals Rework (“Reasons to Quit” Chapter):

1. Why are you doing this?

What is it for? Who benefits? What is the motivation behind it?

2. What problem are you solving?

Was something not possible before that should be possible now?

3. Is this actually useful?

Are you making something useful or just making something?

4. Is there any easier way?

Well defined problems are usually pretty simple, don’t assume they require hard solutions.

5. Are you adding value?

Can someone get more out of this than they could before?

6. Will this change behavior?

Is what you are working on really going to change anything?

7. Is what you are doing really worth it?

Is the time, effort, cost, etc. worth what you hope to gain? Don’t go throwing good time after bad work.

5 Questions That Will Change Your Life (Life Coach Tim Brownson):

1. What Else Can This Mean?

2. Who Can Help Me?

3. What Am I Grateful For?

4. What’s My End Game (Goal)?

5. What Can I Learn From This?


And of course no “Life’s Lists” list is complete without H. Jackson Brown Jr. Life’s Little Instruction Book. Some of my favorites from this:

Life’s Little Instruction Book


93 : Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of your happiness or misery.

213 : Don’t waste time grieving past mistakes, learn from them and move on.

328 : Seek opportunity, not security – a boat in a harbor is always safe, but its bottom will eventually rust out.

355 : Evaluate yourself by your own standards, not someone else’s


140 : When starting out, don’t worry about not having enough money. This is a blessing and not a curse, nothing else encourages creative thinking quite like this.

156 : Strive for excellence, not perfection.

168 : Resist telling people *how* to do something. Instead tell them *what* needs done. They will often surprise you with the solutions.

271 : When faced with a difficult task, act as if it is impossible to fail

274 : Leave everything a little better than you found it

324 : Don’t delay acting on a good idea, success comes to the one who acts first.

334 : Instead of the word problem, try substituting the word opportunity

379 : Forget committees. New, noble, world-changing ideas always come from one person working alone.

399 : Focus on making things better, not bigger

401 : Don’t ever watch hotdogs or sausage being made.

404 : When attending meetings(or conferences), sit in front.

428 : Do More than is expected

463 : Be open to new ideas

466 : Set Short Term and Long Term goals

481 : Watch for big problems, they disguise big opportunities

504 : Commit yourself to quality