My last two rules

(Editor’s Note: This is the final excerpt from business performance improvement expert Larry Valant’s book, Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance.)

99 – At the end of the day, truth, justice and the American way still work.

Contrary to what the media wants us to believe, truth, justice and the American Way are still very much alive in business and in the home in America.

As we pointed out at the beginning of the 100, truth is the great simplifier and never hurts the teller. Truth telling makes life better and easier, always. Much of living a good and productive life is determined by our parents and how we were raised, by our genes and the natural gifts we have been given. But we determine a great deal of our life quality by how we choose to live our lives – selfishly and deceitfully or with truth and consideration for others.

Justice means applying a healthy balance to our lives and how we treat others. Justice means we get what we deserve, and in the long run that is true. Each day we get what we deserve. A life of peace and serenity, or a life of chaos, stress and worry?

We determine our life direction by our attitudes and our behaviors, living in fear, or living free of fear. Our attitudes determine practically everything. The next time you have a conversation, try to keep track of how much time you listen and how much time you talk – you’ll find this a revealing exercise to say the least. How much do you talk about yourself? How much do you talk about others? How much of what you say is kind, fair, true and just? We can learn a great deal about ourselves by listening to our conversations.

Ah, the American Way, vilified by the media and those who don’t love America. Well, we believe that our government sometimes gets it right, and often it doesn’t. Remember the words “a government of, by, and for the people?” Sadly, most of those in Washington are in a government for the government, period. Taking care of the us is not even on the list of things to do, headed by get-re-elected-at-any-cost.

Well, America is not in Washington, it is in our businesses, our factories, banks, college campuses, hospitals, highways, churches and synagogues, our cities and towns – and in our families. The desire to build something and pass it on to our heirs, to our communities, to our country remains strong and vibrant. The desire to do the right thing and meet our responsibilities ourselves is strong. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America – keep it alive and well inside you.

Enjoy today and the people in your lives as if today were your last day – you’ll see today better and use today more wisely, and love those around you as we all should.

100 – Determine what is non-negotiable.

Throughout this book, we have introduced the reader to what we consider to be non-negotiable life principles. Without exception we always:

– Arrive early for every appointment and meeting. Those who know us well would be certain we’d been hit by a bus if we did not arrive before they did to almost any appointment.
– Prepare an agenda with objectives and deliverables prior to every meeting. We don’t take anyone’s time for granted.
– Update our personal commitment plan weekly. (We plan before we act!)
– Return phone calls and emails immediately if possible, but certainly within 24 hours. (A simple courtesy!)
– Put the client first.
– Practice kindness.
– Tell the truth.

Take the time to answer the following questions: What is presently non-negotiable in your life? What should be non-negotiable in your life? Now glance back through the pages of this book and select two or three items to add to the non-negotiable rules for both your work life and your personal life. Put them on a 3 X 5 card and tape them where you will see them.

Send an email to us at or and tell us about your life insights and realities, and your life successes. We’d love to hear from you, and maybe you can help grow the 100 Realities to 1,000 or more!

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Categories: Management & Leadership