It’s my express intention to keep my posts clear of political chatter. There are plenty of sites battling it out much better than I ever could. Besides, I’m just not really interested.
So with that in mind, you might be suprised at the title of this post: Rumsfeld’s Rules. I like Donald Rumsfeld. I think I like him, in large part, because of his Rules. I read them years ago, and they’ve stuck with me…despite Rumsfeld’s best attempts to shake off the good vibe.
Rumsfeld wrote the Wall Street Journal article about his Rules back in early 2001. Unlike a lot of things from early 2001, the Rules are still good. I guess 40 years of distillation will do that.
Though he devotes a whole section to business, some of my favorites come from other sections. Here are some that I really like…
From the ‘Serving in the White House’ section:
Learn to say “I don’t know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often.
Don’t speak ill of your predecessors or successors. You didn’t walk in their shoes.
Don’t blame the boss. He has enough problems.
From the ‘Keeping Your Bearings in the White House’ section:
Don’t think of yourself as indispensable or infallible. As Charles de Gaulle said, the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.
Be yourself. Follow your instincts. Success depends, at least in part, on the ability to “carry it off.”
From the ‘Doing the Job in the White House’ section:
Don’t “overcontrol” like a novice pilot. Stay loose enough from the flow that you can observe, calibrate and refine.
Don’t allow people to be excluded from a meeting or denied an opportunity to express their views because their views differ from the president’s views, the views of person who calls the meeting, or your views. The staff system must have integrity and discipline.
If the staff lacks policy guidance against which to test decisions, their decisions will be random.
From the ‘Serving in Government’ section:
Include others. As former Sen. Pat Moynihan (D., N.Y.) said, “Stubborn opposition to proposals often has no other basis than the complaining question, ‘Why wasn’t I consulted?’ “
Watch for the “not invented here” syndrome.
From the ‘Politics, Congress and the Press’ section:
If you try to please everybody, somebody’s not going to like it.
Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up.
From the ‘On Business’ section:
When you initiate new activities, find things you are currently doing that you can discontinue–whether reports, activities, etc. It works, but you must force yourself to do it. Always keep in mind your “teeth-to-tail ratio.”
Know your customers!
The way to do well is to do well.
From the ‘On Life (and Other Things)’ section:
“The art of listening is indispensable for the right use of the mind. It is also the most gracious, the most open and the most generous of human habits.”–Attributed to R. Barr, St. John’s College, Annapolis, Md.
“Intellectual capital is the least fungible kind.”–Unknown
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”–F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Demographics is destiny.”–John Scanlon
Wow, didn’t realize just how many I liked! Good stuff, though. Each one deserves a whole book.