Personal Commandments

Several years ago I took a course called ‘Building your own theology’. One of the assignments was to list your personal ten commandments. This helped clarify my personal philosophy. If you read the article on Time Management you recall that having a philosophy is the greatest time management tool there is.  Some of my commandments are general while others are more specific to the unique experiences that I've had over the decades. Unlike Moses, I do not expect or even want you to follow my commandments. I do hope that some neurons snap in your brain that haven’t snapped before.   

1)  Be consistent. Hold fast to your values. Act according to your beliefs. Note: this is similar to the original commandments 1-3 Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,  Don't take the name of the lord in vain & Keep the Sabbath holy.

There is no need for a list of commandments if you are not going to act on them. I enjoy dealing with people and businesses that are consistent because I know what to expect. I enjoy being surprised when they go beyond what was expected but not when they go in a totally different direction. Consistency works both ways. I know a manager who cancels most projects weeks or months after they are started. The staff knows this so they consistently put less energy into his projects. 

2)  Thou shalt not lie. It is permissible to lie when what is being covered up is more important than your personal integrity.  A lie is something with the intent to deceive.

If you have ever taken a logic course, you have come across moral dilemmas. Someone is at your door saying, "I am here to kill your roommate. Is she home?” The normal commandment 'Thou Shalt not lie' leaves no room for this situation. Know the value of your own integrity.  

When I was a teenager my mother would ask where I was going. I told her exactly where I was going and what I was planning on doing. I knew she would not believe me. By being truthful I was actually lying. 

Sometimes I expand this rule to include it is ok to lie when you need to save time. People are constantly asking me technical questions on the capabilities of computers. "Can the computer do such and such?" Occasionally I will lie and say no just to save the effort of explaining.  

3)  In all that you do, do quality.  One of the reasons that the ends do not justify the means is the end cannot be defined. You may think that cheating on a test is good because you pass the test and the course. Then you fail out in the real world because you don’t have the knowledge that your credentials say you have. In the business world you might provide less than your normal quality for a small client and regret it when he expands and buys from your competitor.  

There is no telling what doors will open up if you have a reputation of doing quality work in both small details and large projects. 

4)  Respect and encourage creativity & integrity. Always help the dreamer. A dreamer dreams of bringing something into existence that has never been before. Art, poetry, new ideas, old ideas made simpler. To create something of beauty for the joy, the pleasure of accomplishment is the mark of a dreamer. A dreamer is not to be confused with a hoper or wisher. 

5)  Hold no animosity toward wild geese.  One person’s wild goose chase is another’s noble goal. Some think I’ve been chasing wild geese all my life. I love them!

6)  In all actions be just and fair. Many people think they should be just and fair because of the potential results. This might be the way to get into heaven, or others will treat you as you treat them. It could also be argued that it is our obligation to be just and fair because we live in a society. These results may happen and the obligation of citizenship might be the only way a society can function smoothly, but the reason I try to be just and fair is that it makes life easier. These commandments are to help me make decisions and save time. By being just and fair in my dealings with other people I don’t have to be concerned with who I have offended. 

7) Never lose sight of the big picture. Review your business mission statement periodically. If it does not reflect what you are doing, either change the mission statement or change what you are doing. My mission statement for the last decade has been to reduce the cost and complexity of running a small business. This helps me decide what books & magazines to read, what college courses to take and in general helps me make decisions.  

8) Earn (deserve, merit) all that you want - thou shalt not steal. In other words winning the lottery should not be part of your life strategy. Part of being human is the desire to have more. More things, more friends, a more interesting job, better health, a nicer home. Our media is full of stories of people who have quickly accumulated these things; they start a new job and are promoted to vice-president in a year. Some unknown uncle dies and leaves them a wonderful house. They start exercising and run a marathon a few months later. While these stories are inspiring, it is more realistic to work several years to achieve your goals. My father, a professional photographer, spent decades building his skills and reputation before he was able to devote his full time to his passion. You can buy his books at any online bookstore. Look for books authored or illustrated by Jerome Wexler

9) Thou shalt allow individuals to make as many decisions as possible and take responsibility for their decisions. There are two reasons for this. First, the person closest to the problem should be making the decisions. They will understand the problem better and be able to see the consequences of the solution. Second, this allows individuals to grow. In the future, it will be easier for them to make decisions about bigger issues. Too many managers, parents, politicians or others in authority try to make decisions for the people they are responsible for, because they think they know what is best. Personally, I like being surrounded by peers instead of admirers. So helping people grow is to my advantage. 

10) Everyday do something that makes a permanent improvement. Almost every self-help book is centered around this concept. Try searching the web for the phrase ‘15 minutes a day’ and see how many millions of hits you get. Everything from building a new vocabulary to whiter teeth, all in 15 minutes a day. I’m not that strict. I don’t care how many minutes I spend or exactly what I improve. I know that if I make at least one improvement daily, either in my personal or business life I will achieve my goals. For more detail read the article on Preventing Mediocrity.  


The purpose of life is to gather the wisdom of the ages, add your individuality and change the world. Try to make it a better or at least a more interesting place. –H Wexler 

We're supposed to be perfect our first day on the job and then show constant improvement. Ed Vargo, major league baseball umpire 

Chance favors the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur

It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that. -G. H. Hardy  

Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago. Bernard Berenson (1865 - 1959)

Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead. Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

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