Friday, July 21, 2006

16 rules to live by

Thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, LaShawn Barber, for sharing a post that I probably never would have seen otherwise by Bob Parsons, CEO of at his blog, Hot Points, and for challenging her readers to ponder this list.

Bob offers the following 16 "rules of survival". Originally I'd planned to mention only my favorites, but the more I looked over the list, the more I realized that they are all relevant and worthy of mention. So, instead I've decided to see which ones apply to my life at this very moment as I'm "giving birth" to Grace Bay Charities. My humble thoughts are added in italics after Bob's:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."

I can say without a doubt that forming Grace Bay Charities, going "public" with my own struggles in an effort to help someone else, and believing that there are enough people out there to help make Grace Bay House a reality is the biggest leap of faith that I've ever taken. I don't think I could ever be farther outside of my comfort zone than I am right now.

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.

This is definitely advice I need right now. There are days when I ask God why on Earth He asked me to do this. This project seems so big and so overwhelming and I can't imagine raising enough money in time. But just when I don't think I can cry another tear, I get an e-mail, or a phone call, from a woman who has been victimized. Those simple, heartfelt thank yous are like a "you go girl!" from God. How can I quit now?

3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."

If this is true, my breakthrough should be coming any minute now! LOL

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."

I've decided that the 2 worst things that could happen because of this project would be (1) for my rapist to find me again and (2) to not raise enough funds to purchase the property that I'm supposed to close on at the end of next month. Considering that my rapist is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison and I've moved at least 20 times since the attack, that's highly unlikely. As for Grace Bay House, if that's the property we're supposed to have, God will bring the people and the funds to make it happen. If it's not that particular property, it'll be another one. I have done all I know to do to get the word out. I've often heard that God has to ask 500 people in order to get 1 to act. I'm learning that that is true. I've done what He's asked me to do, now all I can do is move out of the way at let Him take over.

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."

Enough said.

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

This is probably the hardest one for me, but I'm working on it.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.


8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

This may be the only one I disagree with. Sometimes it takes a while for me to hear back from God. Some of the biggest mistakes I've ever made were made because I didn't wait for Him.

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

I agree.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

I'll remember this as Grace Bay grows.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

I'm finding this to be true, even in the non-profit world.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal.

To this I'd add... "and moral". I think this is true not only in business, but in personal relationships as well. Sometimes we have to set boundaries, even where family and friends are concerned. Just because someone is a relative or a long-time friend, that doesn't mean that your relationship with them can't be toxic. As we grow and mature, so do our values and our priorities, but not always in the same direction or at the same pace. Relationships that may have worked (or that we tolerated) in the past, may not necessarily be good for the person we have become. It takes courage to break free of toxic relationships, but it beats the alternative.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

There probably isn't a survivor alive that doesn't know this to be true.

14. Solve your own problems. You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."


15. Don't take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

Another hard one for me, but one I'm working on. While I agree that a large part of what happens in our lives is outside of our direct control, I disagree that it's due to "luck".

16. There's always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: "We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time."

I couldn't have said it better.

Thanks Bob for some great advice!

The above article is included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( and is Copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Annie said...

What good advice and in a very nice and easy way to go about it. Thanks for sharing.