Friday, January 26, 2024

The Code

Uncommon Rules for an Extraordinary Life

  1. No tattoos or piercings, corporeal graffiti and vandalism respectively.  Men should have no piercings, and women should have no more than one simple earlobe piercing (per ear).  These defilements can only detract from or diminish natural beauty.
  2. If you are a woman, wear little or no makeup, maintain simple nails, and if you must dye your hair, only use what could be a natural color.  Never attempt to artificially change your skin tone or color.  Authentic beauty is best (and easiest).
  3. If you are a man, maintain a conservative and short hair style; facial hair should be kept to a minimum.  If you must wear facial hair, keep it neat and trimmed.
  4. Plastic surgery should be restorative or reconstructive only.  Light cosmetic surgery (and procedures, fillers, etc.) may be okay, but it never seems to end there.
  5. Never be showy (ostentatious, flamboyant, gaudy, garish, tasteless).  Keep jewelry to a minimum; absolutely no bling.  Avoid bright colors and keep leather to belts, coats, and shoes.  Leather tops and slacks are tasteless.
  6. Likewise, unless you are in a swimsuit for the purpose of swimming, or otherwise getting wet, or sunbathing, there is no reason to display your midriff in public.
  7. No marijuana, regardless of legality; certainly no harder drugs.
  8. Limit prescription drugs; or better yet, avoid them entirely.  Maintain a healthy distrust of pharmaceuticals, their manufacturers, and those that would prescribe them to you.  The same is largely true for over-the-counter medications.
  9. Do not smoke cigarettes.  Do not vape.
  10. Keep abreast of current affairs.
  11. But be discriminating for your news sources.
  12. Do not use social media for yourself.
  13. Put your smartphone down.  Deal with the person in front of you, not the people on your phone.  More generally, be fully engaged with the person or persons in front of you.
  14. Remember that the internet includes a comprehensive reference library in the palm of your hand.  Use it.
  15. It is worth remembering that your smartphone and smartwatch, and even your automobile and headphones, are tracking/listening devices.  When appropriate, leave them behind.
  16. For the above reason, and to hold everyone's attention, implement device free meetings.  If someone is so captivated by or in need of their device, they probably should not be attending the meeting anyway.
  17. Do not assume that other people will use your preferred app for digital communication.  Get yourself a secure, professional-sounding email account, and use it.
  18. Understand that there is an inverse correlation between intelligence and noise creation.  In all situations, be cognizant of the noise you create and how it affects those around you.  Invest in a good set of headphones; take calls outside, or not at all.
  19. Time is more valuable than money.
  20. Do everything in your power to not waste other people's time.  It may be okay to waste your own time, but it is never okay to waste someone else's time.
  21. Always be on time, or early.  Never late.
  22. Consider the amount of time you spend watching other people play sports, and talking about it.  Your life should be full; keep it in perspective.
  23. No computer/video games, or any gambling or pornography whatsoever.  This is not a moral condemnation or judgment.  Rather this is about time and productivity.  Find something, anything, more productive to do with your free time.
  24. Wake and sleep early.  As a rule, early risers are vastly more productive than night owls.  If you doubt this, just compare the activities of early risers before eight am with the activities of night owls after eight pm.
  25. If you cannot gain acceptance to a top 100 college, find something else to do.  If you go to college, get an education in addition to a credential.  Do not go into debt to get any college degree.  Treat college like a job, not like a party, and not like a political campaign.
  26. Start a business as soon as you are financially able to do so.  If you fail, do it again.
  27. First rule of business:  Find good people to help you.  And the corollary:  Find people you enjoy working with and who want you to succeed.
  28. Take good care of your staff and they will take good care of your customers.  (J. Willard Marriott)
  29. As time and technology and culture change, it is worth asking:  What business are we in?  The answer may surprise you.  (Rollie Tillman)
  30. In all things, quality is more important than quantity and speed.
  31. Have a realistic view of your own competence.  Complex tasks take time to master, sometimes years.  (See Dunning-Kruger Effect)
  32. Acknowledge and address the negative.  The power of positive thinking cannot and will not solve all problems.  Avoid overly optimistic people who can be naive, imprudent, unthinking, hasty, ill-prepared, and often just lazy.
  33. Learn to identify shallow, overly polished people with no depth.  Seek out people of substance.  With practice this becomes intuitive.
  34. Foolish, stupid people know everything; smart people are aware of how little they actually know.
  35. Find the quietest, most introverted person in the room, and ask for his or her thoughts.
  36. Articulate is not a reliable signal for intelligence:  If someone is very articulate, that does not necessarily mean that they are particularly intelligent.
  37. If someone is difficult to talk with (unpleasant, ill-tempered, prickly, churlish, easily offended, condescending, self-absorbed, etc.), they are almost always not worth the effort.  There are exceptions, but generally do not waste your time.
  38. All intelligent people are friendly.  Whether they are sincere or not, they are smart enough to understand the utility of friendliness.  Consequently, only stupid people are unfriendly.
  39. If you find yourself in an environment unfriendly to business, move to somewhere, anywhere, more friendly to business.  Do not waste time trying to change the environment.
  40. Today, there is no good reason to live in an urban setting.  Find a safer, more productive environment to anchor your career and lifestyle.
  41. If your country/state/city is not loyal to you, ask yourself how loyal you should be to your country/state/city.  Be prepared and willing to act accordingly.
  42. Be distrustful and wary of government.  Regardless of how it is installed, government always serves itself and its functionaries, first and last.
  43. All governments lie to the public; some more than others.  Bad governments lie consistently.  The worst governments compel you to lie with them.
  44. Always be skeptical of government competence and motivations.
  45. Do not allow any government to dictate moral, health, or life and death choices for yourself or your family, including drugs and vaccines, other healthcare decisions, parent-child relations, war and conscription, etc.
  46. In any society, with any form of government, there will always be many more Net Wealth Consumers than Net Wealth Creators.  With various derogatory characterizations, legal requirements, and even violence, and with varying degrees of success, the Consumers will always attempt to enslave the Creators.
  47. In all circumstances, compliance is a choice.  Noncompliance may be an unpleasant choice, but we should always be prepared to make it.
  48. Consider a potential spouse carefully.  Find out how they react in adverse or stressful situations.
  49. Do not be afraid to be alone.  In any case, do not make relationship decisions, certainly not a marriage decision, based on fear of being alone.  Being alone is infinitely better than being with the wrong person.
  50. In fact, if you are under 30, spend no time focusing on marriage.  If it happens, fine.  But be realistic – most marriages fail.  Don't waste time chasing it.
  51. If you marry, you and your spouse should form an inviolate single unit.  Allow no disruption from others, including parents and siblings, other family and friends, and even your own children.  (Steve Harvey)
  52. Do not have children unless and until you can afford them, preferably within a marriage.
  53. If you do not want children, do not have children.  Think about this in advance.
  54. Read broadly:  Even if you cannot afford to travel, you can afford to read.
  55. Speak proper English.
  56. Practice good writing.  You do not have to be a great writer, but at a minimum you should be a competent writer.
  57. Read at least one book on etiquette and one book on negotiation.
  58. Master basic table manners.
  59. Learn to think critically and learn to think for yourself.  Critical thinking is a character trait that most people lack.
  60. Bear in mind that most people would rather be in the majority than be correct.  (Nzube Olisaebuka Udezue)
  61. Maintain intellectual curiosity in all things.
  62. But never be credulous about anything.
  63. In any conflict between the expert class and your own common sense, remember that common sense is sometimes incorrect and the experts often have a perverse and/or hidden agenda.  Read more.  Act accordingly.
  64. Understand that experts in all fields often fall prey to groupthink and conformity.  Learn to identify and avoid these perils, and do not accept conclusions or actions based on them.  Study dissenting views before coming to your own independent opinion.
  65. Your personal pronouns are:  Imeweusmyself, and ourselves.  All other pronouns belong to other people.
  66. Just because other people tolerate and even promote insanity, that does not mean you must.
  67. Judgment and judging are not bad qualities; strive for sound judgment.
  68. But teach yourself to admit when you are wrong (you'll get lots of practice), and always be willing to change your mind.
  69. There is nothing wrong with disagreement and healthy debate.  The honorable role is to listen to alternative positions, make better arguments, or change your mind.  Only the intellectual coward seeks to cancel, censor, or otherwise shut down alternative positions.
  70. Embrace questions.  Never be afraid to ask questions; never be afraid to receive questions.  Pay attention to how others react to questions.
  71. Four simple sentences to remember:  I do not knowI need helpI was wrongI am sorry.  (Louise Penny)
  72. You cannot buy class.  But you can improve yourself by reading, observing others (the good and the bad), and by exercising sound judgment.
  73. Follow the Waiter Rule:  One's true character can be gleaned from how one treats staff or service workers, such as a waiter.  (Dave Barry)
  74. Further, respect your subordinates and what they do for you.
  75. Understand that objective truth exists; our job is to find it or at least search for it.
  76. Understand also that many people do not believe in objective truth.  Rather, they believe in subjective truth, relative truth, your truth, my truth, and their truth, etc.  Avoid these people.
  77. Recognize that some cultures (and subcultures) are better than others.  Cultures that stress honesty, trust, merit, and seriousness are more successful than those that do not.  If you question this fact, you should travel more.
  78. It is culture, not colonialism, that explains why some societies are more successful than others.  The same is true for various groups within any given society.
  79. Pay attention to your own culture and its concomitant politics and political order.  If these structures start to break down or lose their moral compass, develop an exit strategy for yourself and your family.  Smart, observant people left Weimar Germany while they still could.
  80. Treat others the way you want to be treated.  (Matthew 7:12)
  81. Judge a person not by skin color, nor by any other immutable trait, but rather by the content of his or her character.  (MLKJr)
  82. Live and let live (unless someone is causing harm to someone else).
  83. In almost all cases, your parent’s religion is an accident of their birth geography.  This is not a sufficient reason to adopt it as your own.  Bring your own critical thought and sound judgment to the question.
  84. More generally, do not adopt your parent's beliefs and principles as your own without first applying your own critical thought and sound judgment.
  85. At our core, we are what we believe.  It is wise, and even necessary, to consider others' choice of religion, politics, worldview, and more generally their ethical beliefs and actions, in our assessment of them.  These are NOT immutable traits; these are personal moral choices.  We cannot separate, and should make no attempt to separate, who and what they are from what they believe.
  86. Be faithful to your convictions:  Religious, political, environmental, economic, etc.  If you cannot do so, or if you fail to do so, or if you are unwilling to do so, fine.  But do not proclaim, profess, or preach them to others.  Do not be a hypocrite.
  87. It is almost always best to be honest, but it is moral to lie to prevent deliberate injustice.  If government thugs show up at your door looking for Anne Frank, or a runaway slave, deception is the ONLY moral choice.
  88. Maintain high integrity in all pursuits.  You will never encounter a low integrity individual who is especially clever.  For all their perfidy and shortcuts, they are never as smart as they think they are.
  89. If an individual demonstrates low integrity in one aspect of his life, it is practically assured that he has low integrity in other, likely all other, aspects of his life.
  90. Integrity and trustworthiness are more important than high performance or excellence.
  91. Own your mistakes.  Then do everything in your power to correct them.  That is what people will remember.
  92. Keep your expectations of others in check.  If you generally expect others to act responsibly, you will often be disappointed and frustrated.  If you generally do not expect others to act responsibly, you will occasionally be pleasantly surprised.  The latter is better than the former.
  93. Do not tolerate toxic or graceless people; cut them loose.  Expect and demand some minimum level of goodwill and behavior from others.  Surely we owe this to ourselves.
  94. In fact, there is a level of maltreatment that indicates that one no longer values a relationship with you, and that they have no expectation nor desire to maintain it into the future.  Make no attempt to salvage the relationship; let that be the end of it.
  95. True friendship is a bond of reciprocal grace.  We should be honored and grateful to have someone as a friend.  But the reverse is also true.  Others should be honored and grateful to have us as a friend.
  96. So focus on who and what is important.
  97. And say no more than you say yes.
  98. At a minimum, learn to boil water on an open fire (this includes starting the fire).
  99. Be serious.  It is good to have fun.  But be serious about your relationships, your education and career, and your life generally.
  100. Live a life of moral venture.  Happiness is not the goal.  Happiness is a mere byproduct of moral venture.  (Jordan Peterson)
  101. If you follow these rules, you can expect some degree of ostracism.  Whether by your own choosing or not, do not be afraid of being an outcast.  Embrace it, and view it as the opportunity it is.
  102. So if you are around people who do not appreciate your choice to follow these rules, find yourself some new people.
  103. And if you are lucky enough to find people who do appreciate these rules, hold on to them.
Yes, there is some overlap, and even some repetition.  And some of these rules seem very small and trivial.  But none of them are.  I could expound at length on each of them.  But here, I will leave them for the reader to ponder.

All of these rules are non-negotiable.  But they are not for everyone.  In fact, they are not for most people.  They are for the rather uncommon people who choose to follow them.  And it is a choice.  Believe me, the choice will be obvious to yourself and to others.  So yes, most people will not follow them, but they will gladly receive you into the vast fellowship of the inked and medicated, into the communion of the frivolous.

Now some people will pick and choose which of the above to follow and which to disregard.  I suppose that is okay.  But I submit that you will be more successful following any particular rule if you follow all of the rules.  In fact, following only a subset of these rules misses the whole point.  Ultimately these rules are a way of thinking and a lifestyle.

So, is this elitist?  Elite in the sense that not everyone has access?  Absolutely not.  Everyone, everywhere can follow these rules.  Given the global, interconnected, digital world we inhabit, I would argue that these rules transcend any particular culture.  These rules are not elitist, they are merely...uncommon.