Fuck the 12 rules for work — consider these golden rules instead.


A little while ago I was inspired to write a blog entitled "12 rules for work — an antidote for chaos". I will admit in hindsight it was a little optimistic to think something like this could be "tackled" in 500 words or less... or maybe it was just arrogance (I do tend to confuse the two sometimes). For my efforts I received some great feedback, as well as a number of additional rules for consideration — including mine, I now had 27.

Ever the optimist (I think), I couldn't help but realize that 27 rules were just too unwieldy and there were probably a handful of "Golden Rules for Work" in the mix  and as the original title suggested, these rules would be an antidote for chaos.  In a list of 27 there must be gold... at least it seemed a reasonable assumption.

  1. Be passionate about your work, or at least find an element of it that excites you.
  2. Be prepared to do your best work. Be on time and get organized.
  3. Admit mistakes early
  4. Dress the part. Never show up looking like a slob.
  5. Be open to ideas and input from others.
  6. You will get nothing done without objectives and expectations.
  7. It is better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
  8. Measure as much as you can.
  9. Raise the bar once you think you know what you are doing.
  10. People don't pay for easy.
  11. Make decisions and move forward.
  12. Measure twice; cut once.
  13. Establish deadlines and adhere to them.
  14. Establish objectives and meet them.
  15. Be flexible enough to change your objectives or path if it no longer seems relevant or appropriate.
  16. Share the load by offering help to others and by accepting help from others.
  17. Admit your mistakes and dare to learn from them.
  18. Be light-hearted. Nobody wants to work with miserable people..
  19. Be brave and do the right thing, even when nobody else is.
  20. Never forget work is much bigger than what you do.
  21. Although you are good at what you do, remember that doesn't mean you are good at everything.
  22. The person that you forgot about will throw a wrench into what you want to accomplish.
  23. When someone asks if there are any questions... ask one.
  24. Work is an intellectual pursuit, not an emotional one.
  25. You know your business when you know your numbers.
  26. Nothing gets done without good people.
  27. Work / Life balance.

Using a secret process of consolidation, stack ranking, statistical validation and even a little regression modelling I was able to identify what I am now calling the "5 Golden Rules for Work™ " (Please note it's trademarked and backed by the weight of the internet). I've tried to make them easy to remember (even a little pithy) and are in no particular order except for the first one; the first one came to me from an old work colleague, and I'll admit feeling a little sheepish because I forgot to include it on my original list — damn the Capricorn in me because it's the most important one.

Golden Work Rule #1: Be Balanced — This specifically refers to the concept of Work/Life balance, and as I was reminded, "not having it could lead to personal conflicts, attitude decay, distraction and then the foundation crumbles"*. All that hard work will be for nothing.

Golden Work Rule #2: Measure Twice; Cut Once — This refers to really understanding the situation you are dealing with, that you use data to make decisions, know your numbers, and never make your decisions based on "I think", but rather "I know".

Golden Work Rule #3: Make decisions and move forward  It is all about progressive activity. Set things in motion, learn from your mistakes, course correct, and continue towards your goal.

Golden Work Rule #4: Manage to Objectives and Expectations — Having objectives and expectations will ensure your goals move forward, and please make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. This gives your efforts something to anchor to, and makes the measurement of progress easier.

Golden Work Rule #5 Listen to Others — This rule is about people... about how their insights and ideas will make the outcome of whatever you are working on better. Surround yourself with good people, engage them, and listen to what they have to say.

There you have it — definitely better than my original 12 rules. Thanks to RC, PC, JG and KW for helping me with my efforts; I'm better for your help.

Refer back to Golden Rule #5


* to quote PC.