Yesterday someone told me about how they’d had to attend a meeting in order to write up a new mission statement. “Don’t you have one?” I asked, to which she replied, “We’ve got two already, but people thought we needed a new one”. For me the idea of mission statements is for self-licking icecreams, like setting targets you know people will simply subvert to hit them, that what people do, how they are led, how teams are motivated is what counts, not a link at the bottom of your website.
But what if we were to write down the fundamental principles we live by, how would they look? Would they betray us, if we were honest, like ‘1. Shag everything. 2. Make shitloads of money’. I expect deep down at least one of those are on most people’s lists, as they are pre-programmed into us, to survive and propagate, as necessary as adding shit, eat, drink, piss.
So beyond that, what would I have on the fundamental principles, the things I'd have printed on my death bed mission statement?
1.Not to sound like a hippy, but it's worth remembering that you’re organic, not made but grown, you're a process and will remain unfinished until you're dust.
2.The past is the compost of the now, don’t wollow in it. Grow.
3.Know your place in the cosmos, one grain of sand on a beach.
4.You have a finite time on this world, each day from waking to sleeping, each hour and second, life passing. Don’t waste this gift on thoughts or ideas or problems you cannot save, change or rectify. Focus instead on what’s within your power.
5.Know your beastly nature, that monkey, reptilian self, both the harm and the good it can bring.
6.Try and achieve discipline in most things, as sloth is a parasite to this gift of life.
7.Be stoical in the face of loss and humiliation, never thinking what more you could have, but what could be taken away.
8.Speak your mind, but learn how to make a shit sandwich.
10.Be a pragmatist and know when to fight and when to yield, the bending branch shedding the snow while the unyielding breaks.
11.Know there is no such thing as truth, just the balance of competing evidence.
12.Shop at Lidl but NEVER buy anything you can’t eat or drink.
13.Avoid being in dept to anyone, as this make you a slave.
14.Take the time to make others aware of their value to the cosmos, while never seeking validation from anyone but yourself.
15.Don’t become attached to anything but the things that you love or love you.
16.Be wary of experts, those who tell you invest or medicate or where the wind will blow tomorrow, but also be wary of those who, in rejecting experts, feel qualified to be treated as such.
17.Most people are good, but there are sharks and wolfs as well, so don’t get eaten.
18.Dress like an Italian but spend like a German.
19.Study Roman history, as all you could want to know about tomorrow is there.
20.If you can make an omelette the world is your oyster (tip, start with a pan that’s super hot)
21.Remember that “When news becomes entertainment it’s no longer news”, that we are surrounded by click bate and journalists who’s income depends on news, on outrage and hysteria. In these days of
falling crime and less want for the majority (we actually life in the most peaceful time in human history), but with 24 hour news stories news is a commodity like sausages (and equally full of unhealthy shit).
22.True wealth is the ability to be poor but richer than a millionaire.
23.Speak to strangers whenever you can. One out of ten will tell you something profound and life changing.
24.Avoid any dealings or dependency on the state, or imagine it can achieve anything of value, beyond war or charity.
25.Make money your slave not your master.
26.Don’t aim for perfection, it is impossible to achieve in anything, from a thumbnail painting, relationships with people or governments. Perfection is a trap that will suck your life away.
27.Question everything, but know when it’s best to hide your doubt.
28.The rule of law will always be blunt or cruel or imperfect, but it’s the keystone to civilisation.
29.If you’re right wing read the leftwing press and vice versa.
30.Don’t make bitterness or envy your daily bread, focus on being the 1% and doing good with your industry rather than wishing them poor.
31.Try and avoid people who are tire kickers.
32.Don’t bend your knee if to do so make you a slave to an idea.
33.Unscrew the wheel bolts before you lift up the car.
34.Don’t answer while your angry.
35.Don’t discount a man’s views or opinions simply because you don’t share commonality on one subject. At the same time just because someone has commonality with you on one thing don’t assume they they share anything else.
36.Don’t live a safe life.
37.This world is coming to an end, so prepare yourself for the next one (cover both base, learning how to build machines that make machines or knife fighting).
38.Love is like a fire, keep putting on the wood or it’ll turn to ashes.
39.Think like an adult, and if you can’t, think of an adult and try and think like them (Clint Eastwood).
40.Get rid of your mobile phone.
41.A luxury becomes a necessity.
42.Seek out self knowledge and don’t reject anything that may help you know more. Most certainty is undermined by learning a little more.
43.Don’t dehumanise your enemies, but also don’t project your own outlook or morals onto your allies.
44.Don’t fuck yourself up with drink or drugs, and if you can, just avoid both as much as possible.
45.Before every great stride in a life their often comes a hurdle.
46.Love your enemies to death.
47.Listen to other people’s music suggestion, not just your own.
48.Don’t stop moving.
49.Easy or hard, always go hard.
50.Don’t buy an X-box, or an X-box 2 or any box type devise.
51.For god sakes don’t take up painting in water colours.
52.Don’t take the horror of the world personally, but look at it like a psychopath, as people who set out to good most often do worse.
53.Don’t be a slave to popularity, or intimidated into being one of the herd.
54.Try and know the difference between a thick skin and the inability to take criticism.
55.Try and have respect for people who have opposing views, but eventually even the most understanding of people need to press that ‘blocked’ button, especially on assholes.
56.At the same time let people know you’ll not lie down and be kicked to death, that you will defend yourself and will kick back.
57.Don’t update your OS on day one.
58.Don’t make everything about you, you grain of sand.
59.In most things be guided by your brain, not your gut.
60.Angry people click.
61.Don’t complain or bitch or moan, but act - or don’t.
62.Learn to express yourself, to talk and argue and write, to impress on people who may be your allies that you are a person of value to them. The aim is not always to be liked, but only respected in some
63.Don’t be a narcissist, unless you can do it with class. You’re a grain if sand remember and the tide is coming.
65.Most of lives problems can be solved by simply ‘manning up’, be you a man or a woman.
66.An ideas person is just a lazy fucker.
67.Understand the power of simple stories. For example, two monks come to a stream when they see a woman trying to cross. The older the monk takes her on his shoulders and carries her across, the
younger one following, the river’s current strong. Once on the other side the monk puts down the woman and she walks away. Two more hours pass, then three, finally the younger monk could contain
himself any longer, and blurts out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?” The older monk looks at him and replies, “Brother, I set her down on
the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
68.Don’t dwell on the bad things you did, just don’t do them again.
69.Don’t be a slave to who you once were, your class, to abuse, bad luck, a poor hand. Own who you are, that these things made you.
70.Treat all people the same, and judge them by their character not by the fact they have balls, boobs, who they like shagging, or the pigment of their skin (music taste should be taken into account).
71.Learn to mirror, to see things from multiple perspectives and motivations. Often your own dogma makes you the worst kind of bigot. Once you can do this you unlock a great deal of the truth of things (but
be warned you may well lose your faith in your allies).
72.The moment you are stimulated ask yourself who’d pressing your buttons, and why.
73.Know the difference between united and city, otherwise you’ll not look like a man.
74.Depression is like the winter snows, give it time, wait for the sun to return, and it will go.
75.Don’t put off something you’ll never finish, just stop now.
76.A man talking to a wall is a fool, plus they’re wasting their time. don’t talk to walls.
77.Define for yourself what success is.
78.Be fit, but don’t be a meat head or become a slave to your body.
79.Read a book when you go to bed, and get a normal non phone alarm clock.
80.Don’t pity anyone, or look for pity, especially from within yourself. You are pulling up the plug and all the strength that may help you back will drain down the hole. Remember the stoic principles, and that
you are a single grain of sand, the cosmos does not know you let alone care, and what ales you cannot be mended - only medicated - by anyone but you.
81.Swim in the sea as often as you can. Away from the shore you’ll know your place.
82.Don’t forgive your heroes while condemning your enemies, better to find something closer to understanding with both.
83.Forgive, even if you keep that forgiveness from the forgiven.
84.Try and have some integrity, but first work out what that would look like.
85.Only do social media one hour a week.
86.Take ownership of your life, both the good and the bad.
87.Base your view on the world on the world you see around you, your own reality, not views given out to you by actors who may wish to copt you for their own aims.
88.People want to know two things: how much and what do they get.
89.Be generous to people you meet, and try to help them, but don’t mistake generosity for a void in yourself.
90.Learn to live on as little as possible.
91.Buy more flowers.
93.Learn to look around you, at the tiny details, at what people say, what they don’t say. Why do some houses have milk delivered to their door while others don’t?
94.Learn to cook and avoid food that comes in boxes or does not rot away.
95.Don’t wish or expect everyone to think the same. Express your views but leave it up to others to come to their own truth.
97.Make your bed.
99.Don’t take selfies.
100.Don’t base your life on lists like these, but make your own.
A Kit Kat bar costs 60p. Were these words worth as much?
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram