All posts in: "Your Simple Rules"

  1. Making a Difference


    I am a big proponent of the notion that #1SimpleThing can change everything. Just think what might happen if you turned left instead of right at the next intersection, accepted one job offer over another, or met and swapped stories with a stranger sitting next to you on an airplane. The Butterfly Effect – that a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in New York City – is alive and well.

    Influence is an interesting concept: the smallest gesture or deed can in fact trigger a memory, brainstorm, or feeling that propels you in a new and exciting direction. Or reminds you of what is really important.

    Yesterday, a colleague shared this bit of wisdom with me, and it resonated. “Treat every interaction as if it makes a difference.” What a lovely thought; perhaps it’s a Simple Rule for you to reflect on.


  2. Quiet Confidence


    Confidence does not have to equate with bravado and brass. Often the best leaders engender loyalty, trust and fellowship through quiet poise and conviction.

    Recently I met one such individual. She did not have the loudest voice nor did she choose to be the center of the group.  In fact, you might easily pass her by in the hall. Still, you knew she was someone when she entered the room; and everyone wanted to hear what she had to say.

    I came away from the meeting with this short list of simple rules in my head. Pardon my assumptions but I wonder what she would think of these. I will ask her next time.

    • Take a stand. It’s not about being right; it’s about being secure in your beliefs and open to other points of view.
    • Listen more than you speak. Opportunities to learn and grow are all around; be open to them.
    • Ask questions. Strength lies in honesty, curiosity, and recognizing one’s limitations.
    • Acknowledge, appreciate and reward others. None of us are alone, nor can we do everything by ourselves. Relationships are a gift to be valued.
    • Own your actions. We are accountable to ourselves, our communities, and the world.

    What do you think? Do you know this person? Are YOU this person?

  3. SRF, Arizona

    As a counterpoint to the last story, here is another list of (not quite) Simple Rules on how to ruin the office culture. They come courtesy of Employee Benefit News and certainly provide some food for thought. I believe culture comes from the top, so what is the culture you and your leaders are creating and sustaining? And by the way, just how do YOU manage?

    •  Hold the positive feedback, provide negative feedback. After all, why should employees feel good about themselves? And really, positive feedback is just “the cotton candy of HR tactics.”
    • Take credit for the work of others. After all, you hired them, right?
    • Get employees to hyper-compete with each other. After all, this leaves the most talented individuals standing, separating the producers from the non-producers.
    • Ignore the great ideas of your employees. After all, are you even listening to them?
    • Keep dead weight around, but fire talent for no reason. After all, it’s best to keep your employees off-balance.
    • Keep tabs on employees by stalking social media. After all, it’s probably not illegal yet in your state, so keep sniffing around for the good stuff.
    • Haze outgoing employees. After all, they have some nerve! Besides, “People quitting your organization are quitters.”
    • Ignore work-life balance. After all, your employees were hired to be at work and that’s where you always expect them to be.

    What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, this is the way it is at some organizations. Is this your organization?  

  4. SRF, Arizona

    I recently came across an article on what we could learn from U.S. Presidents. Well, you could no doubt write a book … and in all fairness I see Part One: What to Do, and then Part Two: What Not to Do.

    So each of us would do well to pay attention to the following list of Simple Rules. After all, the complexity around us – particularly when it comes to increased globalization and shifting social, economic, and political winds – brings choices and opportunity along with challenges and uncertainty. These rules are borrowed liberally from that online article and the source book, Winning the Long Game: How Strategic Leaders Shape the Future by Steven Krupp and Paul J.H. Schoemaker.

    The last two rules are my own, and should probably head the list. What do you think?

    • Anticipate change.
    • Challenge convention.
    • Interpret signals.
    • Decide with conviction.
    • Align stakeholders.
    • Learn from failure.
    • Act with intention.
    • Do no harm.
  5. Dannie, North Carolina

    A colleague of mine asked me to speak to a group of her graduate students. I came up with the following which seemed appropriate and I believe would serve us all well beyond the bounds of the classroom.


    Simple Rules for Every Student

    • Always do your homework: be prepared – in fact, shoot for over-prepared.
    • Work and play well with others: reach out and develop strong, lasting relationships. You never know when that give-and-take will benefit one or both of you.
    • Go for extra credit: do more than you have to and exceed expectations. People will remember how you treat them.
    • Never stop learning: everywhere you look there are opportunities for growth and development. There is always a takeaway if you look for it.
    • Don’t skip recess: take the time for reflection, discovering purpose and a turn at bat.

    What do you think?


  6. Jacob, California

    I found this neat piece on how to hone your decision-making skills in my inbox this morning. I have seen many varieties of these; you simply have to ‘decide’ what works best for you. As for me, I cannot resist making them even simpler!

    On Decision Making

    •  Know what you value.
    • Know where you are headed.
    • Seek input from others around you.
    • Weigh you options.
    • Go for it.

     Thanks, Jacob!



  7. Bret, Hartford, CT


    As someone who frequents and sincerely enjoys cafes, coffee bars, local eateries, public spaces, and other wi fi accessible areas to work when not at my desk, I have learned to appreciate community rules and follow the etiquette of the common ground. Recently I started paying attention to my own and the behaviors of others “on the road.” Most travelers respect the parameters of good sense and good manners; it is also enlightening to identify and observe those who don’t. Keep an eye out next time you are having an espresso. What kind of customer are you?


    Simple Rules for Taking Advantage – without Taking Advantage – of Public Wi Fi in Private Places.

    • Order Something. Sitting for hours at someone’s place of business requires a reasonable purchase in direct proportion to your time there.
    • Respect Peak Hours. Limit your time taking up revenue space during lunchtime or other high volume times.
    • Don’t Occupy the Biggest Table. Even if you like to spread out, you are a party of one.
    • Use the Buddy System. Sharing or pairing up with someone else reading, working or studying is friendly, courteous and a good way to meet an interesting stranger.


    These are not original and I don’t know if they are exactly posted anywhere, but someone I met at Panera’s shared these with me. I’m passing them along.

  8. Jon, Italy

    I can often be my own worst enemy. Is that often not the case? So on reflection I have come up with these. I cannot see where these would not work. Will report back on this.

    Simple Rules for Getting Out of My Own Way

    • Understand the map and the territory.
    • Allocate time, energy and resources wisely.
    • Value clarity and economy.
    • Know when less is more and when more is more.
    • Learn to appreciate success and failure.
    • Clear away the noise and focus.
    • See, understand and then act!


  9. Maddy, South Dakota


    Because how we see things is pretty much how things are for all of us, I put together this short list of Simple Rules based upon The 4 Truths, a wonderful model that has emerged from the field of human systems dynamics and the work of its founder, Dr. Glenda Eoyang.

    Though not strictly Simple Rules, the following aligns with the Truth as we know it.


    Simple Rules for Finding the Truth

    • Objective Truth: Just the facts, Ma’am. –Dragnet
    • Subjective Truth: How you look at it is pretty much how you’ll see it. -Rasheed Ogunlaru
    • Normative Truth: Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ –Kahlil Gibran
    • Complex Truth: Search for the true and useful. –HSD Institute Simple Rule

    So, what is YOUR truth? 


  10. Steve, California, US

    Everyone worries about time management: so much to do, so little time, so much left at the end of the day. Steve Tobak, start-up expert and contributor for, has a different idea. He believes “our national obsession with self-improvement and personal productivity” actually costs more than it saves. His recent article got me thinking and these simple rules emerged.

    Simple Rules for Managing Time Management (and a few other things)

    • Give up the search for shortcuts. Quick fixes and ‘good enough’ may sound good, but is it really quick and is it good enough for you?
    • Unplug. Distractions come in the most appealing and appalling shapes and sizes. When you are ready to focus, turn off and tune out.
    • Plot your own course. We learn and grow from every interaction but what counts is your own style, perspective, technique, approach and manner.
    • Know yourself.  This old saw is always apt. Productivity and creativity come from within. Find your own rhythm, space, time and pace. One (wo)man’s chaos/choice is another (wo)man’s inspiration/revelation. It is STILL about who you are, what is important, and how you want to connect with the world.

    Thanks Steve!

  11. Chuck, Ohio, US


    A recent piece by writer, editor and publishing expert Chuck Sambuchino inspired this short list of simple rules, which we all could have used at some time or other. What I particularly appreciate is that each can be a metaphor and scalable for the individual, whole and greater whole.

    Simple Rules for Not Loosing those Best Ideas that Come to You in the Middle of the Night. (No, you won’t remember in the morning!)

    • Turn on the light
    • Sit up
    • Open your eyes
    • Tune out distractions, including (especially?) significant others
    • Write it down
    • Make sure you’ve got it

    Thanks, Chuck!


  12. Carter, Florida, US


    I’m a high school teacher and have the joy of working with young people on the brink of discovery. They are a serious and sophisticated bunch, with talent and skills to match their hope; they readily choose to make a difference in the world.

    Their simple rules are straightforward and speak to the challenges and opportunities they see ahead.

    • Stretch and flex
    • Choose creativity
    • Venture out of your comfort zone
    • Be a hero and do the right thing


  13. Diana, Portland, OR

    Special thanks to a friend of the Simple Rules Foundation in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, US.



    diana sr

  14. Sandra, Toronto, Canada

    A colleague and I recently had a conversation about her work in the international business arena. These are Sandra’s words:

    As the environment continues to change and as we look to free our organization in order to deliver on our promise to our customers, it is also important to free the individual expertise of each one of us in order to support that promise.

    With that in mind, Sandra helped launch her company’s Simple Rules:

    • Be clear about what you can and can’t do and when
    • Suggest a solution with every problem
    • Celebrate success and excellence
    • Invite others’ opinions and ideas

    These represent how our organization will operate from now on, at all levels of the organization.  Our simple rules make up the code that informs people how to act.  To further support the effort, every employee will be invited by their managers to take part in discussions on what these ‘simple rules’ mean to each of us, as individuals and members of a team, and how they can truly bring the simple rules into our everyday way of operating.

    In the meantime, the rules will serve to empower each member of the organization.  Just imagine if everyone is committed and encouraged to challenge the status quo; respectfully push back on actions that no longer support the future direction of our group; and instead embrace our full potential by applying these simple rules.


  15. I.P.R., Ohio, US

    Learning to deal with and overcoming adversity is what makes us who we are. Every challenge and every difficulty we successfully confront serves to strengthen our will, confidence and ability to conquer future obstacles. One example of how simple rules can help comes from a colleague of mine, I.P.R. She is a coach, consultant, author and advocate.

    “I have set some simple rules for myself personally as I continue to recover from cancer and complete my divorce.

    • Get healthy
    • Get business
    • Stay connected

    The last one is somewhat important for me because I have a tendency to isolate myself in difficult times.  This prompts me to put effort into staying connected with others in a larger sense, and in a more focused sense it helps me to overlook little irritants with my daughter to maintain our relationship while we both go through this life change.  AND, I still need to make a living.”



  16. Karin, Baltimore, MD

    Karin Hurt is an experienced executive and leadership zealot, challenging leaders to question, experience, grow and succeed.  This short list of simple rules emerged from her work on collaboration and community.

    • Do the best that everyone of us can
    • Have each other’s backs
    • Share the bad, the good and the best
    • Be there
    • Learn, grow and celebrate together

    To find out more about Karin check out her blog, Let’s Grow Leaders.

  17. Kirk, Atlanta, GA

    Kirk Weisler is an Entrepreneur, Speaker, Motivator, and Chief Morale Officer.  His passion is to be a catalyst for positive change.  A recent post on his Thought for the Day site, T4D, about simple rules caught my eye and Kirk graciously allowed us to share these with you. Be sure to check out all of Kirk’s posts.

    Three Simple Rules for Life:

    • If you don’t GO after what you want, you’ll never have it.
    • If you don’t ASK, the answer will always be NO.
    • If you don’t step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.

    Thanks, Kirk!

  18. Larry, Change Consultant, East Coast, US

    Larry partners with clients throughout the US and western Europe to accelerate measurable, sustainable change. He and his team at 3-D Change follow simple and powerful rules to guide every interaction with each other and their clients:

    • Use any and all tools we possess, in any combination, needed to address our clients’ unique situations and needs. There is no “one best way” to make change happen.
    • Recognize that if our clients don’t own the solution, it is unlikely to be sustainable. Focus on asking a great question rather than providing a great answer.
    • Strive to build lasting relationships with clients and each other. Especially in complex systems, the work is never “done.” Our goal is to earn the right to work with our clients and their emerging needs over time.
    • Recognize we can’t – and shouldn’t be “all things to all people.” We must add real value in the areas we can – and acknowledge those areas where we can’t.
    • We must never lose sight of the fact that our clients invest their trust and resources with us. We owe them a positive return on their investment.


  19. Griff, Director of Cocomotion, UK

    Cocomotion is a non-profit community of coaches committed to supporting organisational and individual learning in the third sector (charities, social enterprises). We’ve been running for about two years and over the last couple of months have been looking at how to best unfold the community (grow it), and have been exploring Human Systems Dynamics tools.

    We developed a set of simple rules which emerged from how we are already working, and then tested them with new Cocomotion members, which quickly refined the rules to this current set.

    1. Engage in learning for all – clients, you, community.

    2. Notice what changes and share stories to inform community and third sector.

    3. Let curiosity lead: take risks and aim for surprise.

    4. Do what you think is right for sustainable outcomes for you, the client and Cocomotion.

    5. Create a safe space for self and other.

    6. Do it for the love of it and have fun.

    We found simple rule development to be quite subtle – the key thing seemed to be to keep them at the right level: not so low level that they feel behavioural, nor so high level that they become vague. I am really curious to see how our ‘semi autonomous agents’ actually work with these in real life. Anyway, it’s been a great process and the discussions about the rules have made it clear where our mojo is!


  20. Bruce, Upper Mid-West, US

    I have extensive experience working with management and labor, particularly within the Public Education sector.  As an organizational development expert, I specialize in negotiations and HR systems.

    I believe these to be generic Simple Rules for Negotiations (which are always fraught with conflict):

    1. Look for interests, not positions.
    2. Always plan at least three steps ahead.
    3. Look for ways to say yes.
    4. When in doubt, ask a question to explore. When certain, ask a question to verify.
    5. Envision a solution that meets the needs of all parties.
    6. Focus equally on building relationships and resolving issues.

    Some of these are based on Getting to Yes; some originate from basic communication skills. Thanks!