The 48 Laws Of Excellence
by Dr Henry Jekyll
Never Learn From Someone Threatened By Excellence
Never limit yourself to accommodate the insecurities of others. Your goal is your own personal excellence – and as such do not curtail the development of your skills, self-confidence or courage for anyone. If you are working for someone who is threatened by excellence, you are working for the wrong person. If you are learning from someone who is threatened by excellence, you are learning the wrong lessons. If you are learning from a man who is scared of being eclipsed, you have already eclipsed him.
Make Trustworthy Friends
Surround yourselves with friends you can trust. No man ever achieved anything great alone. It has never happened. Build trust by being trustworthy, and cultivating a shrewd sense of character. Do not allow yourself to fall into believing what you want to believe about a person because they are beautiful, strong and talented. Be honest with yourself. Make trustworthy friends.
Be Relentlessly Open About Your Intentions
Inspire others to join with you by the boldness and openness with which you act. Do not worry about others moving to cut off your plans. Your bold and decisive action will cut through such scheming, and seize the initiative. Learn the skill of quick and decisive action.
Always Say Exactly Enough To Be Understood Perfectly
Language is a tool. Use it. Learn how to use it as a master violinist plays a violin. It's purpose is simple - the communication of ideas, feelings and concepts. Use it to communicate your intentions and plans, to inspire others to join with you. Just don't talk too much for too long. You have work to do.
Your Reputation is Incidental
Reputation is symptomatic of excellence, and not causal - that is to say, it happens around you when you cultivate excellence inside yourself and live courageously. Do not hide from reputation, and do not be ashamed to stand up and be counted, but do not get lost in it's pursuit. If you focus on your reputation in and of itself, that reputation will have no substance to back it up. If you concentrate primarily on excellence, and make reputation a secondary concern, then you will have a powerful foundation should your reputation come under assault. Never attack the reputation of others. Instead, look to their hearts, and see if they pursue excellence, or something else, such as reputation. If they do, their empire is built on a house of cards. It will be no obstacle to you.
Do Not Shy From Attention
This is a world of indolence and apathy. Many people are seduced by the myriad of toys, games, flashing lights and drama which surround us in the modern age. As such, mediocrity is commonplace. But the potential for excellence is within everyone. As such, you must expect that your excellence will draw attention. Use it. Use that attention to project your excellence into the world, to inspire others. Do not stand out just for the sake of standing out, but stand out by the quality of your life, and the person you are. And do not hide yourself.
Ask for, Inspire and Accept Assistance, and Give Credit Where It's Due
Remember this - your friends and comrades are as important to you as your arms and legs. As and when you rise to a position where people look up to you, delegate to them, but personally speaking, treat them as equals. Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further a common cause you each share. Make sure that you never allow these people to feel unappreciated. They are so essential to your success that if they leave you it will be like losing a body part. You must understand this. Only then can you achieve greatly.
Do not be easily provoked. Cultivate Self-Discipline
If someone is attempting to provoke a reaction from you, you are the one in control. It is always better to meet any opposition on your terms and not theirs. Remember this. If someone is provoking you, they have chosen that battlefield. Do not meet them there. Meet them somewhere else, if at all. Always keep in mind though, that your personal excellence is massively more important than any personal victories you may enjoy over individuals.
Take Actions, Do Not Get Lost In Argument, Or Thought.
Opinions are ephemeral and have no reality. Action matters. Opinions and ideas are only of value when they inform action. They only have any worth at all when they are manifested in reality. When in doubt, take control of a situation by seizing the initiative. This is a crucial law, which can be applied on a grand scale or a very small scale - even in conversations. Develop the art of moving decisively, and well. Cultivate the ability of shooting from the hip with accuracy in your life. Hone your ability to choose wisely, fast, then to act upon it in a totally committed fashion.
Infection: Avoid the Self-Indulgent and the Sceptical.
Negative emotional states are extremely infectious. If you are keeping company with the lazy, the self-indulgent, those who have a victim mentality or those who are habitually sceptical of ideas. They are all each highly damaging in their own way, but perhaps the worst of them are those of a victim mentality, and those who criticise the ideas of others. Self-indulgence and scepticism are easy and cowardly. These people attack excellence in all it's forms and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of others. Fight this in any way you can. Make a long term commitment to freeing yourself of their influence in every possible way.
Learn to Inspire Independence in those who wish to Join You.
Another person is always of more use to you as a powerful ally than as a sheep-like follower. Never accept blind adulation, and never allow others to rest their self-esteem on your goodwill. Always expect independence of those who seek to join with you. Reward emotional independence in your friends with respect. A bond of trust between brothers in arms is always stronger than a bond of validation and power between leader and follower.
Use Honesty and Generosity From a position of Strength to Disarm your Enemies
Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of, but cultivate the ability to keep your ego out of the decisions that you make regarding those who you dislike, or who dislike you. Attempt, as far as possible, to distance yourself from negative feelings toward others. You have bigger fish to fry than getting involved in personal dramas. At the same time, remember that a man is always more use to you as an ally than as an enemy. Extending an olive branch to someone is simple, and if you are offering it from a position of strength, it will most likely be accepted, which will mean that you have one less enemy and one more ally.
When Forging Alliances, Do not plead like a bleating sheep.
Get yourself to a position where you have something to offer, then propose an alliance of mutual benefit with someone who's skills complement your own. It is easy to forge win-win relationships with people if you have something to offer them. Both of you together can achieve more than either of you individually. Make certain that you do not compromise yourself, and do not be quick to remind others of past acts of charity. Your charity is your own business. Generosity is its own reward. What matters in the moment is the pursuit of excellence, of real achievement. Remember this.
Do not Spend Time Obsessing Over Rivals
They are an irrelevance to you. You are not gauging your success by that of others, but only by the distance you have travelled on the road to personal excellence. If you are under threat, deal with the threat decisively and shrewdly - but only if you are under threat. Remember that your genuine cultivation of personal excellence makes attacking you at a deep level very difficult. Even if someone could successfully portray you as something else, such a deception, no matter how convincing, would be no more than a facade. Reality itself is on your side.
Transcend your Enemy Totally
Do not pick fights. End them. Make certain that you are the most difficult-to-provoke person in the world. You are succeeding on your terms, not those offered to you by well-meaning friends or the terms offered to you by those who attack you. If you get sucked in to fighting personal battles, your excellence will always be something that exists relative to another. You have bigger fish to fry. As far as you can, beat your enemies by transcending the petty concerns they wish to squabble over with you. If you need to eliminate a threat, someone who is attacking you, always remember that if they provoked the fight they have done so because of a weakness in them, probably based on some form of self-deception and fear which they have not overcome. As such, the truth is on your side. Look for that truth. It is a weapon of incredible power.
You Are Defined Most By How You Handle Damage
When you are weak, when you feel low, when you have been struck in the most personal and heart-wrenching of ways – that is the time to fight harder than you've ever fought. It is in those moments of absolute truth where we decide our own worth. It is when all logic and reason are telling us to give up on what we know is right, on what our hearts desire more than anything in the world, that we must fight the hardest. Let the blows of your enemies and the cruel twists of fate be spurs to your efforts. Cultivate your defiance of them to an extremely high degree. Optimism is not an alternative to pessimism. It is the state of mind of those who refuse, in the face of logic and reason, ever to give up on themselves or on their heart's desire - no matter what the situation in which they are placed.
Keep On Your Toes: Cultivate an Air of Dynamism
Humans are creatures of habit, and fall into patterns. You are not immune, and neither are those around you. Cultivate in yourself the faculty of creativity and imagination, so that your actions are neither predictable nor ineffective. Demand constant and persistent action in pursuit of your heart's desire, and do not get bogged down in worrying about the correct method. If in doubt, act. You will make mistakes, but you will also score victories and the more action you take, the better you will become at taking action. Effective action is like a muscle. Work it.
The World Is A Mirror, So Drop Your Guard
The world is like a mirror. If you walk about the place with your defences high, the world will raise its defences to you, and you will be alone. If you walk around the world looking for weaknesses and openings to exploit, people will not connect with you and you will be alone. If you walk around the world with your guard lowered, wearing your heart on your sleeve, you will be attacked and it will hurt. But if you are willing to take any pain associated with lowering your guard as a lifestyle, you will make strong, effective and useful connections with other people of worth and value. You will also condition your heart to be strong, as well as open. This strength will serve as one of the key ingredients for excellence.
Be Mindful Of Creating Enemies.
You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and there's no need to tiptoe around people's egos when you have to do what is right. At the same time, if you can do what is right without offending others, do it that way. This is not something to obsess over, but make certain that if you are making an enemy, you are aware of what you are doing and you've thought through the consequences. There are millions of ways to achieve each and every goal you set yourself. It's better for you not to put yourself in a position where you might come under attack in the future.
Commit to your conscience, Commit to yourself.
Your moral sense is the core of your being, whether you like it or not. Never be ashamed to act upon what you believe to be right. At the same time, and as much as is possible, retain your integrity, and hold control of your anger. Always control your indignation – do not allow it to control you. At the same time, your morality is critical. It drives you to do what is highest and best, and it will show you the path that your life should be taking, if you let it. Listen to it, and commit to its call. It is the heart of you. If you walk in tune with your morality, you will be at peace with yourself, even if the road you tread is a difficult one.
Never Be Ashamed Of Your Gifts, And Do Not Hide Them
If you are intelligent, be openly intelligent. If you are eloquent, be openly eloquent. If you are skilled at your job, be openly skilled at your job. If you have a skill, do not hide it for the benefit of others. The only part of them you are benefiting is the lowest and least worthy – their ego. Develop your excellence in the light of day. Those who feel intimidated by this and who shy away from you or snipe at you, even if large in quantity, will be totally outclassed by the quality of the people your pursuit of excellence will draw to you, even if these people are few.
Use the Surrender Tactic: Give the Baby His Bottle
If you are being sucked into a conflict, it's often better to surrender graciously very early on. The key is knowing whether or not the conflict is something worth fighting. Most of the time it isn't. It is hard to see this sometimes because when you are provoked, many people will stand their ground over a point of principle when the actual reality of the conflict is basically irrelevant to them. This is anathema to excellence. Cultivate within yourself the ability to step back from conflicts and examine them dispassionately. If it is apparent that someone is throwing a tantrum over an issue that has no higher meaning, give the baby his bottle. You will often find that it is insecurity and fear which motivated them in the first place, and once they do not see you as a threat, they may indeed become a useful ally.
Concentrate Your Efforts
Achieve things by focusing your efforts totally on the achievement of one task at a time. This is critical. Focus yourself on completing that task to a degree of excellence and effectiveness, and then move swiftly on to the next task. Focus completely on that. This is the principle of the application of maximum force. Focus all your energies at one challenge at a time, overcome that challenge, then focus all your energies on the next one. You are invincible in this as long as you do not let up, or lose focus, and you continue to assault the problem for as long as it takes for that problem to be overcome. No task is beyond your power to accomplish.
Never Play the Courtier
It is far better to offend someone than it is to make a habit of lying. The excellence of your genuine self is what you seek to develop. Deception and trickery are a gamble and a trap. If you allow yourself to use these tools out of fear or greed then they can and will obscure your true self from others, and from you. This is catastrophic. Instead, work on the development of your skills of self-expression, and make the genuine self you express a powerhouse of excellence. There will be no limit to how far you can rise in the world.
Re-Create Yourself In Line With Your Deepest And Most Noble Desire
Look into yourself. Take a long time with this one. Really plunge deeply. Work through all the layers of propriety and social programming, all the things you've been told are important and all the things you just want for reasons of ego. Punch down through those layers and really find your heart's desire. What do you want to be? Ask yourself that, and keep asking until you find a clear and distinct answer. That answer is the meaning of your life. It will give you a clarity of purpose, a goal which you can focus on to rise above the irrelevant dramas of the present and something to move toward. No matter how wild or amazing it seems, hold to it. It is what you want the most. It is your Arete, your excellence. Picture it clearly and often. Never, ever let it go.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Get involved on every level. Never be above the grunt work. Make the amount that you are willing to actually do in the pursuit of excellence exactly this: as much as it takes. Do whatever it takes. Make things happen. Build your castle stone by stone with your own bare hands if you must. No task is ignominious that is part of the pursuit of excellence.
Utilise People's Desire to Connect to Create a Group of Staunch, Powerful and Creative Allies
People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Never, ever become the focal point of such desire. Remain grounded in yourself, and fully human in public. Do not set yourself up to be something you are not, because it is a gamble that you do not need to make. Also, the benefits which it will give you will be transitory and weak – the worship that you are given by someone is not a comment on your greatness, but on their insecurity. Instead, remember that the greatest and most talented people in the world need friends also. No-one is above gaining one more ally. Share with them your vision of what you will become. Fuse your heart's desires together into great projects. In a world filled with apathy, complacency and selfishness, your honest pursuit of excellence will be a breath of fresh air.
Cultivate Effective Audacity
Hone your audacity like the edge of a blade by being audacious whenever you can to the best of your ability. If you wish to achieve something, but are unsure of a course of action, attempt it anyway. Audacity and boldness are crucial skills for achieving excellence. Even if you fail, you will learn more about taking action, and about seizing the initiative instead of over analysing an opportunity until it is gone. You will learn more about how you react under pressure, and what it feels like to face down fear. These skills are more important than any contingent victory. Cultivate them. This is about the athlete. Not the individual races.
Make Specific, Contingent Plans
The detail is everything. Making specific plans is a creative effort, and like any creative effort it is a skill which can be developed to a very high level. Excellence is something that must be cultivated, and excellence at making specific plans for effective action is skill that is impossible to do without. No matter how well you react to others, and no matter how effective an opportunist you are, sooner or later you will need to seize the initiative in a sustained way or lose it. As such, this skill, the skill of practical planning, is effectively the skill of taking control of your destiny. Do not be without it.
Do Not Rely On Clever Tricks
When your actions are in line with your expertise, they are natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that goes into developing them becomes invisible. Do not feel you need to hide this – excellence is not a magic trick. It is something that you must be developed, cultivated, built up from solid foundations. Your excellence is not an illusion. Do not build it with clever tricks, but around a core of rock solid central skills. You do not need to have a dizzying repertoire of tactical know how. Focus instead on building your ability to do the obvious things really well.
Create the Options: Play By Your Own Rules
An option is nothing more than an idea. It is very rare that there are only two ideas which can resolve a situation. Usually, there are millions of different ways to resolve a situation in your favour. If you are presented with a stark choice where you lose either way, detach your emotions from the situation and think dispassionately and creatively. Avoid choosing the lesser of two evils. Always look for a way out that benefits everyone involved – there is almost always one to hand.
Appeal to People's Best Selves – Give Them A Chance To Shine
The truth is often avoided because people are afraid of it. Many people spend a great deal of time and energy building up their fears into something big. Fear is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to weakness and insecurity – if you do only weakness and insecurity will answer your call. If you build an empire on that, you are building it on sand, like a fool. The truth may be harsh, but it is solid. Build an empire on truth and reality. It will have a strong foundation. If you appeal to courage and excellence, courage and excellence will answer your call. There is great power in tapping into the excellence of the masses. That power can be focused and unleashed, and as you build an empire of excellence in the world, you build an empire of personal excellence inside yourself.
Discover Each Man's Excellence
Everyone has a strength, a natural talent, which they can develop to an extremely high degree. It is what they love, it is their passion and their calling. Whatever it is, if you can encourage it in others, you will draw out of them all that is highest and best. You can create extremely strong alliances this way with people who quickly become highly effective and highly skilled.
Self respect is based on a simple recognition that you are a human being. Do not allow yourself to be treated badly. Do not compromise your dignity. You are a human being, and all human dignity has worth and value. Therefore your dignity itself has worth and value. Do not compromise on disrespect. If someone disrespects you, call them on it – do not allow your feelings to be provoked, but call them on their disrespect. Respect is something that your humanity demands. It is not something you need to earn. It is your birthright. Moreover, do not be cruel to yourself. Refrain from berating yourself over past errors. You would not savagely berate someone else for their mistakes - their humanity itself affords them the right to err and still be of great intrinsic value. Your humanity affords yourself the same right. Recognise that and act accordingly.
Master the Art of Opportunity
Your hard work and diligence is only as useful as the direction in which you move. The opportunities that you seek are critical. Keep a weather eye out for any chance of a break, and if you get one, act swiftly and decisively. Your plans exist for you to seize the initiative, but always understand that it is only through capitalising on the opportunities that are presented to you, and the opportunities created by your victories that you will achieve greatly. If you fail to take an opportunity, or fail to capitalise on an opening, do not beat yourself up. Redouble your efforts. Create another opening. Capitalise on that. Seize opportunities with both hands. Drop everything and pursue them – trust your instincts. They are what you have been waiting for.
Focus beyond the problem - Keep your eyes on the prize.
By focusing on problems, dramas and conflicts you distract yourself from your goal – personal excellence, alliance and the achievement of your heart's desire. At the same time, you will encounter a myriad of problems, dramas and conflicts in your pursuit of excellence. Sometimes these things cannot be avoided. Some battles must be fought. What you focus on is what life gives you. When facing problems, focus on solutions. When facing drama, focus on resolution. When faced with conflict, focus on victory. Concentrate your intellectual resources on resolving the matter at hand - but be certain not to be drawn into it. You will always have bigger fish to fry.
Let your excellence be a beacon to others. Develop yourself until you can compete at the highest degree, and win. Be a fireworks display of humanity, a living example of what can be achieved through endurance, faith and courage. Find an arena where you can excel openly, and excel there. Dominate it. Own it. Once you have demonstrated that it is your own, find a bigger arena. Inspired by your excellence, others will join with you, lift you higher and raise themselves up in turn.
Cultivate the Skill of Connecting with Others, And Guard Against Arrogance
If you have the ability to genuinely connect with others, you can go against the times, explore and utilise unconventional ideas and groundbreaking methods, and people will still love you for who you are. Never lose touch with your humanity, for if you do you will lose touch with the humanity of others. Make sure that you cultivate a love of humanity as part of your excellence – disdain for the weak is the thin end of the wedge of arrogance. Look for the humanity in others, and cultivate compassion for those who live enslaved by fear. Do not allow them to infect you with doubt, but do not let them infect you with a sense of superiority either. Do not pat yourself on the back when you see those who are mired in weakness. The only person you can gauge your success by is you.
Expand your position to encircle and undercut your enemies
Do not provoke others into conflict for the sake of glory. At the same time, understand that in attempting to better yourself, in pursuing excellence, you will threaten others who will seek to attack you and bring you down. Answer only the intellectual content of their attacks, and do not repay their vitriol in kind. Always seek to link your ideas with theirs over shared common ground – instead of annihilating their intellectual position. This is critical, and an argumentative tool of immense power. It is always better to broaden your position so that it includes the main thrust of their attack within it, than open up a divisive war of words. In doing so, you will undercut their attack and broaden your perspective. You will gain insight, and they may well repay you in kind, and become an ally. If they continue to attack you, it will be increasingly obvious to anyone that they are not motivated by rational concerns, but by jealousy, envy and spite. They will lose by default.
Learn to accept help from others when it is offered. Your pursuit of excellence will be inspiring to many who you cannot directly assist. If they wish to help you, accept their help. Generosity is a blessing which can centre a person and transcend the petty concerns in which they are bogged down. It allows them to become part of something higher and greater, and their assistance to you, as an act of kindness on their part, allows them to pursue excellence in their own lives. There is nothing to fear from accepting help when it is genuinely and freely offered. At the same time be mindful that no-one uses the memory of past assistance to blackmail you emotionally into compromising yourself.
Stand on the Shoulders Of Giants
Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Learn from others and then develop new directions with innovation and creativity. Always strive to be at the cutting edge. Do not slavishly follow anyone, and appreciate the fallible humanity of those you look up to. All the legends in your chosen field of excellence were nothing more than people, just like you. You are capable of more than them. Much more. Think of them as the people who cleared the path for you to blaze a trail further, brighter and higher than any who have come before.
Be Mindful Of The Profoundly And Consciously Selfish
Understand that some people who attack you will do so convincingly and well. They are threatened by the existence of excellence because they worship self-interest, manipulation and the control of others. You, and especially your success, represents a critical threat to the entire belief systems of these people, and they dare not face the darkness in their own hearts because, in truth, it terrifies them. If you come across such people, avoid them like the plague. Cut them completely out of your life. They will become a convergence point for dissident elements who wish to attack excellence itself. Do not play by their rules, do not get sucked in to their games, and remember this – like vampires, they thrive on shadows and darkness. They cannot stand the light of day. Do your work in the open, and they will be unable to move against you decisively without revealing their rotten nature.
Connect With the Hearts and Minds of Others. Manipulation is Dangerous and Unnecessary
If you openly coerce someone into helping you, they will nurse a grudge and wait for an opportunity to take you down. Even if they do not do this, they will spread poison behind your back, slipping stilettos of doubt between the ribs of those who can help you. If you manipulate someone into helping you out, the second they realise they are your pawn they will attack you with a vengeance many times as powerful as if you had openly coerced them. Moreover, they will spread the truth of your deceitful nature among your allies, and weaken your alliances. Coercion and manipulation are desperate fall-back options when everything else has already failed. As lifestyle choices, they are doomed to failure. Instead, connect with someone's strengths. Do this by finding common cause among others who pursue excellence, and those who you inspire to pursue excellence. Do it also by forging true friendships among those you work with.
Your Fear is your Compass.
Do not build coping strategies to work your way around the things you fear the most. Face them head on. The fact is that fear is the root of every insecurity, every failure, every regret that you use to beat yourself up with when you are feeling low. Defeating it is not an optional extra. Fear is the critical, tragic flaw that has held you back, and you must overcome it. Overcoming fear does not mean becoming fearless. It means getting angry. Become furious at your fear. Go straight for it, straight for the throat. Savage it. Never let it get away with controlling you. It has nothing but your failure at heart. It is your enemy. It is your greatest foe. It is in many ways, your only true enemy. Fight it always, with righteous fury. Your fear is your compass. Whatever you are most afraid of right now is what you should be doing right now in order to be free.
Embrace Change, but Keep a Sense of Direction and Reality
The pursuit of excellence has internal and external aspects. Internally, fight your fear and fix your heart's desire as your ultimate goal. Externally, face your fear in reality day after day, and forge your heart's desire into something real and amazing with endurance, opportunism and courage. As you do this, make certain though that you keep yourself grounded. If you lose touch with reality, you will have failed. If you become lost in dreaming, you will have failed. Excellence is something that must be real, that must be realised, that must be pushed into actuality through force of will and decisive action. Reality is the ultimate testing ground for excellence. Excellence must be given form in reality for it to have any meaning. Honing yourself is a key facet of excellence, but do not get lost in sharpening a sword you never draw in battle. If you never wield your excellence in reality then you might as well not waste your time honing it at all. Wield it.
Excellence is not perfection; Excellence is better.
Seeking perfection is self-defeating because perfection is static. This means firstly that, as a static concept, it has no existence in the real world. Secondly it means that a perfect thing is something that has been completed, and thus ended. If you seek to perfect yourself, you are really seeking to end yourself. To finish yourself. If you seek something long enough, you will achieve it. Excellence is dynamic, and as such it has no limits. If you seek excellence, you are seeking to reach a state of positive dynamism that is greater than anything yet seen. Excellence, unlike perfection, leaves infinite room for personality, style, panache and flair. As such, this quest is both endless, and endlessly worthwhile.
Remain grounded in reality but reach for the stars
Each victory is nothing more than a way point. Excellence is never complete. Each victory is simply an opportunity to capitalise upon – and no victory, no matter how absolute, is ever the end of the story. It is only the end of the chapter, and it opens the doorway to the achievement of even greater things. Never stop. Not once. Until you are dead.
Excellence is your Birthright. Claim it.
Excellence is your birthright as a man. If unclaimed, it will forever elude you. If you turn your whole life to it's pursuit, the world will salute you for your courage, and you will open the door to the greatest future of which you are capable. Ultimately, the universe is a mirror. If you make excellence the core of your heart, excellence will find you and you will live an excellent life. It will, at times, be hard. It will, at times, be scary. But it will always, in some way, be excellent.
As will you.