Can you put a lifetime on a 3×5 card?

Do you think you could distill a lifetime of experiences into a handful of sentences … so that when your grown children read them, they would hold them as dearly as they once held their teddy bears?

I’ve recently published several lists of “life lessons”, for lack of a better term, that keep coming my way from a variety of sources. These lists, scratched on the back of an envelope found in a plane crash, or tucked in a wallet for 50 years, are treasures because they’re personal … and each person believed he or she had captured the unique nature of their humanity.

[pullquote]Can you capture your life lessons on a 3×5 card?[/pullquote]

So, now come the Guideposts of business philosophy taken from the book, Marriott The J. Willard Marriott Story by Robert O’Brien. It’s longer than most … not a note card but still a single sheet of paper … maybe Willard did more than most? Some may seem old-fashioned, others a little harsh for the more indulgent company cultures of the 21st century … but most of them are rooted in sound business practices. Work your way past some of the pedestrian entries to uncover a few nuggets and valid reminders that you can add to your own list.

    1. Keep physically fit, mentally and spiritually strong.
    2. Guard your habits – bad ones will destroy you.
    3. Pray about every problem.
    4. Study and follow professional management principles. Apply them logically and practically to your organization.
    5. People are No. 1 – their development, loyalty, interest, team spirit. Develop managers in every area. This is your prime responsibility.
    6. Decisions: Men grow making decisions and assuming responsibility for them.
      • Make crystal clear what decision each manager is responsible for and what decisions you reserve for yourself.
      • Have all the facts and counsel necessary – then decide and stick to it.
    7. Criticism: Don’t criticize people but make a fair appraisal of their qualifications with their supervisor only (or someone assigned to do this). Remember, anything you say about someone may (and usually does) get back to them. There are few secrets.
    8. See the good in people and try to develop those qualities.
    9. Inefficiency: If it cannot be overcome and an employee is obviously incapable of the job, find a job he can do or terminate now. Don’t wait.
    10. Manage your time.
      • Short conversations – to the point.
      • Make every minute on the job count.
      • Work fewer hours – some of us waste half our time.
    11. Delegate and hold accountable for results.
    12. Details:
      • Let your staff take care of them.
      • Save your energy for planning, thinking, working with department heads, promoting new ideas.
      • Don’t do anything someone else can do for you.
    13. Ideas and competition:
      • Ideas keep the business alive.
      • Know what your competitors are doing and planning.
      • Encourage all management to think about better ways to give suggestions on anything that will improve business.
      • Spend time and money on research and development.
    14. Don’t try to do an employee’s job for him – counsel and suggest.
    15. Think objectively and keep a sense of humor. Make the business fun for you and others.


What’s on your life list? What lessons would be in your top 5?

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