My Personal Operating Principles

The principles I choose to live by.

The inspiration for this post comes from Taylor Pearson‘s post and his Modern Wisdom podcast episode covering his operating principles. After hearing about his experience externalizing his principles, I knew I should do something similar.

These principles exist as a tangible artifact to guide my day-to-day decisions as well as the long-term trajectory of my life. It’s a living document that will evolve as I have new experiences, learn important lessons, and encounter better ideas from others.

I’ve picked up many of these principles from others, and when appropriate, have linked to the source.

I would encourage the reader to do something similar. You don’t need to post it online. Simply going through the activity of writing down your operating principles is worth it.

So without further delay…

My Personal Operating Principles

  1. Living like Jesus Christ in this world is the prime purpose of my life. Every day, I am becoming more like Him as seen through my beliefs, actions, words, habits, and thoughts. (Source: 1 Corinthians 2 & John G. Lake)
  2. I avoid unnecessary thinkism and have a bias toward action. While thinking about my problem is generally good, thinking doesn’t replace action in problem-solving. (Source: Kevin Kelly with David Perell)
  3. I wield the longest lens. I do not optimize the short-term. Rather, when faced with multiple options, I choose the one with the longest time horizon realizing that most things that matter to me (relationships, health, success with integrity) result from compounding. (Source: Sam Hinkie)
  4. I choose to invert life’s big questions. I avoid stupidity before trying to be brilliant.
  5. I study to increase my skills. A steady diet of reading and contemplation is vital to my personal development. (Source: Taylor Pearson)
  6. I strive for simplicity. If eliminating a system, process, or simply saying “no” would save time, energy, or money, I choose to do so. I believe less is more and always seek to do more of less. (Source: Taylor Pearson)
  7. I enjoy my life, recognizing that life is more than the vain pursuit of maximum utility. I order the latte and send the handwritten note. (Source: Rory Sutherland)
  8. I think in Power Laws. The world is non-linear, and I invest in things that have an asymmetric payoff. (Source: Peter Thiel and Taylor Pearson)
  9. I optimize for optionality. I recognize the Extremistan nature of modernity and act accordingly. (Source: Antifragile)
  10. I acknowledge that I am one of more than 7 billion people in this world. My experience makes up 80% of how I think the world works but maybe .000001% of how it actually does. (Source: Morgan Housel)
  11. I remain inside my circle of competence while also trying to broaden its borders. (Source: Warren Buffett & Farnam Street)
  12. I play infinite games with infinite players who know that the rules are undefined and the path forward not clear. (Source: James P. Carse)
  13. I recognize the importance of being well-rested to good decision-making and doing quality work. I prioritize sleep and do not rely on stimulants to make up for a sleep deficit.
  14. I operate with urgency while also not becoming a slave to the idea that “every second has an opportunity cost”.
  15. I do not pursue busyness. Busyness is a sign of over-commitment and a warning sign for burnout. I leave margin in my life today (health, financial, time, etc.) so that I can let compounding do its job. (Source: Bill Johnson)
  16. I recognize that some of these principles are at odds with each other and acknowledge that most of life’s richness is found in nuance, context, and paradox.