How Can I Be Less of a Dick in 2016?

Richard Nixon

Sure. I could have titled this article more positively with something like, “How Can I Be Kinder in 2016?” Instead of a picture of Richard Nixon, I could have led with a kind young gentleman donning flowers in his beard. Imagine firing up some lovely nature sounds in the background. But alas, this occasion calls for a very hot and strong cup of black coffee. Slurp!

One of the definitions the Urban Dictionary provides for the word ‘dick’ is “an abrasive man.” This is insanely accurate. How can I be less abrasive in this new year?

Unfortunately, while a web search on the topic yields 186 million results, much of the advice leaves me a bit hollow. Return a smile? Give up your seat on a bus? Say hello to strangers? Got it! But I’m looking for some more enduring counsel. What I need is a code of ethics.

And so I turn to a dude from way back in the early part of the 20th century who was and is a key influence for Tony Robbins and so many other personal development gurus. I turn to NAPOLEON HILL, who wrote “Think and Grow Rich,” and before that, “The Law of Success,” more than 90 years ago. The promo copy on Amazon calls this book “the holy grail of success philosophy.” Oh get over the cynicism – we all need a bit of hyperbole. I’ve read the book, listened to the audiobook, regaled my wife during many a late night with the condensed version of bootleg video recordings featuring Mr. Hill in the flesh you can find on YouTube.

The original book contains Mr. Hill’s Code of Ethics. And while I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, the one exception I’m making is that I will read and think about this code at least once per week, and then I will keep behaving like a dick. This is a powerful set of principles to live up to, and yes, it is timeless. My comments, where I have any, appear in italic type below each item.

1. I believe in the Golden Rule as the basis of all Human conduct. Therefore I will never do to another person that which I would not be willing for that person to do to me if our positions were reversed.

This is a biggie for me. Interestingly, Travis Bradberry takes this concept further with his Platinum Rule, which urges people to treat others as THOSE PEOPLE wish to be treated, not necessarily as WE wish to be treated. This is a nice tweak to encourage more empathy.

2. I will be honest, even to the slightest detail, in all my transactions with others, not only because of my desire to be fair with them but also because of my desire to impress the idea of honesty on my own subconscious mind, thereby weaving this essential quality into my own character.

The subtlety here is to be honest versus dishonest. This does not imply you say whatever is on your mind in the guise of so-called honesty, which can make you behave like a dick.

3. I will forgive those who are unjust toward me, with no thought as to whether they deserve it or not, because I understand the law through which forgiveness of others strengthens my own character and wipes out the effects of my own transgressions, in my subconscious mind.

Perhaps my continual biggest area for growth and improvement. How are you doing here?

4. I will be just, generous, and fair with others always, even though I know these acts will go unnoticed and unrewarded, in the ordinary terms of reward, because I understand and intend to apply the law through the aid of which one’s own character is but the sum total of one’s own acts and deeds.

The big opportunity here is to drop that quid pro quo accounting ledger. You are generous simply because, and not because you want or expect anything in return.

5. Whatever time I may have to devote to the discovery and exposure of the weaknesses and faults of others I will devote, more profitably, to the discovery and correction of my own.

6. I will slander no person, no matter how much I may believe another person may deserve it, because I wish to plant no destructive suggestions in my own subconscious mind.

I have gotten better at this. One area for improvement is removing myself from gossipy conversations.

7. I recognize the power of thought as being an inlet leading into my brain from the universal ocean of life, therefore I will set no destructive thoughts afloat upon that ocean lest they pollute the minds of others.

I call this one the sleeper principle because it is arguably the most powerful one.

8. I will conquer the common human tendency toward hatred, and envy, and selfishness, and jealousy, and malice, and pessimism, and doubt, and fear, for I believe these to be the seed from which the world harvests most of its troubles.

This is pretty meaningful right now. While we are clearly living in an era of fear, long term historical data shows these are relatively ‘safe’ times. The way to conquer this distortion field starts with our own thoughts.

9. When my mind is not occupied with thoughts that tend toward the attainment of my Definite Chief Aim in life, I will voluntarily keep it filled with thoughts of courage, and Self-Confidence, and goodwill toward others, and faith, and kindness, and loyalty, and love for truth and justice, for I believe these to be the seed from which the world reaps its harvest of progressive growth.

Just a note that Mr. Hill was passionate about defining a chief aim or definite purpose, or what we call goals. While this may prompt an eye roll, how many of us have at least one written goal for each of the key areas of our life, reinforced with strategies, plans, and measurement tools to track their attainment? And how many of us revisit these written goals regularly? I for one flunk on this front.

10. I understand that a mere passive belief in the soundness of the Golden Rule philosophy is of no value whatsoever, either to myself or to others. Therefore, I will actively put into operation this universal rule for good in all my transactions with others.

Stated differently, you’ve got to walk the talk.

11. I understand the law through the operation of which my own character is developed from my own acts and thoughts. Therefore, I will guard with care all that goes into its development.

I look at this as an urging to be as deliberate about what I feed my mind with as what I put into my body.

12. Realizing that enduring happiness comes only through helping others find it, that no act of kindness is without its reward, even though it may never be directly repaid, I will do my best to assist others when and where the opportunity appears.

While this is a fairly comprehensive code, I would humbly add one more item: “I express gratitude for everything I have in my life, including the adversities I encounter. I learn from and appreciate these obstacles while being thankful for any and all positive elements.”

Happy 2016.

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