John Perry Barlow, an internet visionary and (among many other things) one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently passed away. In reading through one of the many articles about his life and career, I came across his Principles of Adult Behavior and they really struck a chord with me as being uncommonly good sense and also a great articulation of how I would like to try to conduct myself. To borrow some words from Mr Barlow:
I don't expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating any one of them, bust me.
That seems like a reasonable goal to me.
Barlow's principles of adult behaviour
- Be patient. No matter what.
- Don’t badmouth: assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
- Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
- Expand your sense of the possible.
- Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
- Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
- Tolerate ambiguity.
- Laugh at yourself frequently.
- Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
- Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
- Give up blood sports.
- Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.
- Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
- Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
- Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
- Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
- Praise at least as often as you disparage.
- Never let your errors pass without admission.
- Become less suspicious of joy.
- Understand humility.
- Foster dignity.
- Live memorably.
- Love yourself.