Recap: Crowd-Sourced Rules for Success

Reading through this week's Space Review, I saw mention in Dwayne Day's article about "Battle’s Laws"--which reminded me that I hadn't yet posted a recap of our Friday Fun Day activity from the week before last.

As you may recall, I was filling in for Mike that week, and asked our online community to submit "rules that you personally live by, or which you have seen lead to systematic improvements." Well, you all responded, in stellar fashion. It was a lot of fun to read through the submissions, and to see how they compared--for example, we learned both that “Impossible is nothing!” and that “Impossible is a challenge.” W also learned that "Failure is always an option." and "Failure is not an option, it comes standard."--and yet somehow, that all made sense.


All of the rules submitted via Twitter and via the comments to that original post were worth reading--indeed, I encourage you to go back and read them all. I've picked out my favorite ones, though, and pasted them below. I hope the authors will excuse some rewording and combining where appropriate--and that the original authors of some of these will remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!


  1. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAFL). As true in modern systems engineering as it was in Heinlein's novels.
  2. Don't go kicking down doors when you already hold a set of keys.
  3. When in doubt, ask. While you're waiting for a response, try something!
  4. You live your values - whatever MATTERS to you, rises to the top of your to-do list and you act on it. Everything else is just posturing. (Also phrased as "If you must do it, you’ll want to do it.")
  5. Experience does not have to be pleasant, it has to be strong
  6. Luck can be manufactured—but all kinds of luck are pointless if you are unprepared to take advantage.
  7. If you want to do something great, be unreasonable, be committed, be willing, be bold, and be right.
  8. Underpromise and overdeliver.
  9. Don't give up what you want most for what you want now!
  10. Do your homework--research the person you are meeting until you could essentially introduce them to a crowd from memory. This makes a huge impact.
  11. Never let impossible stop you from anything.
  12. Dream big, ask for help, never give up.
  13. If your processes include elements that add no value, dump them. Don't do things just for the sake of doing them.
  14. Don't blindly accept what people tell you, even if they are considered "experts." Do your own research and read, read, read.
  15. Failure is not an option, it comes standard. (Success is available as an option; the dealer will not throw it in to make the sale.)


Also passed along were suggestions to check out existing rules developed by W. Edwards Deming and by Norm Augustine.

Many thanks to all of you who submitted: David Masten, Jen, spacenut, James Moore (quarkspin), Mana, Michael Laine, Honza Smolík, snibble, Jason J. Dunn, Gonz037, Mike Fabio, Paolo Amoroso, and Amanda Stiles

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