My Personal Principles

These are my principles for living. They’re a continuous work in progress and a place for me to be reminded of what I know to be true. I read some years ago that the Stoics would write their virtues in a book and debate them over meals and late into the evening. Therefore, I welcome any feedback, criticism, or thoughts.

1. Everything is Art

First and foremost, life is art. Art is creativity. In an incredibly complex and changing world, the way chaotic events create everything is art. I stand in awe of what is. A painting is art just as a slice of a kiwi is art. The movement of a single finger, or the hair growing inside my nose. It’s up to me to see and admire and behold the art that is around me.

2. I am radically curious

In order to see the art, I must be radically curious. Everywhere, there is something for me to learn. I am aware of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and realize, in the grand scheme of things, I know nothing. My worldview, no matter how “evolved”, has more blind spots than not. Learning helps me understand the world.

3. I am merely dancing

The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meaning of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothing but finales.

Alan Watts

I remind myself that it’s not just the destination that I’m after. It’s the dance that will get me there.

4. I am not a stranger

You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing. You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.

Alan Watts

Any experience I have in my body is from my own production. I am connected to all that is, all that was, and all that ever will be. When I forget this, I suffer.

5. My partner is my mirror

What ever I discover I don’t like about my wife is merely a reflection of some disowned part of myself. I can use these triggers as an opportunity to shed light where I’m blind and become more whole.

6. Strong back, soft heart

The most radical thing I can do is love wholly and mindfully. I aim to create loving, open-hearted interactions with my partner, my child, my family and friends, my team and our customers, and the world. This work isn’t easy, but it is necessary. I keep my heart open and I’m willing do to the work: internal and external.

7. Long horizons, short sprints

To get the most out of life, health, my relationship, business, parenting, etc., I keep my horizons long. I don’t focus on what solution I can bring about immediately as much as I work towards a long-term, sustainable goal. It’s not about being in incredible shape in 30 days; it’s about building habits and patterns that allow me to be in incredible shape for my entire life. And to get started, I sprint. But sprints are for escape velocity, not to reach the outcome alone.

8. I strengthen my strengths

A golden retriever fetches. A cattle dog herds. It is not in their nature to do what they are not born to do. I am born to do a few things and when I live those strengths, I am strongest. Through teamwork, I buttress my weaknesses. My Unique Ability drives my creativity.

9. Growth in one domain is a catalyst for growth in another

I’m reminded that lifting weights helps me sleep better. That eating well produces the body composition I train at the gym for. That learning banjo helps me see patterns in the world. When I learn new skills, or grow in one area of my life, other areas are improved.

10. Life is suffering

All around me and within me, there is suffering. From birth to death, I expect suffering. Maintaining a practice of non-attachment and equanimity, I can reduce my suffering. I can work skillfully for an outcome, but I must not be attached to the outcome, nor the identity of having the outcome.

11. Things happen for me, not to me

I am 100% responsible for everything that happens in my life. Everything that happens, it happens FOR me. The universe brings me countless opportunities to grow. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances. I am the author of my life.