We crave rules and tips and hacks because we’re over-stretched and over-busy. But following the rules is not an effective approach in a world of rapid change.
In this mini-episode, I delve into the difference between “rules” and “principles.” I share one of my favorite Clayton Christensen quotes and talk about why developing a set of internally motivated principles based on your values is significantly more productive, integrated, and flexible than trying to adhere to a set of rules (or tips or hacks) provided by someone else.
Key takeaways from this meditation:
- The difference between rules (which are externally motivated) and principles (which are internally motivated)
- Why principles are more flexible and effective for navigating a world of rapid change
- Three key principles that I use to guide my daily workflow
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“We crave rules because they offer the promise of a simple, one-size-fits all solution.”
“A principle is the equivalent of someone saying, ‘Head Northwest’ when you ask them for directions. Whereas a rule is more like: ‘Take a right on this street, drive three quarters of a mile, turn left on this street.’”
“The technology that we’re using to carry out our jobs is constantly changing, and most of us are juggling multiple projects which each demand very different skills and attention levels. In order to remain adaptable, we need principles that can flex with all the change coming at us.”
References and some additional reading for those who want to go deeper:
- Clayton Christensen on What Are Questions?
- The James Surowiecki article that originally got me thinking about a rules-based vs principles-based approach
- By the Numbers, the source of the James Richardson quote
- My new principles-based, productivity course RESET
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