My Top Seven Rules

top seven rules

Mike Tyson woke up and nudged me.

“WTF?” I said and tried to stay asleep.

“James, someone on Quora is asking for the top 7 Rules.”

“So?”

“Listen,” he said, so softly it was like a whisper, and he almost crushed me when he rolled over onto me.

“Remember my one rule,” he said.

I tried to get awake. I didn’t want to die.

“Remember,” the great philosopher and former world heavyweight champion of the world said, “When someone hits you in the face, all of your plans are out the window.”

“Ok, ok,” I said. Went to the bathroom Washed my face. Brushed my teeth and sat down to answer the question.


These aren’t platitudes. They aren’t things I can read and feel good about myself on a commute to work.

This isn’t self-help. This is survival.

When I don’t follow these rules (ALL of them), I go down. I am beaten. It’s a knock-out. My brains get splattered, my heart gets broken and my bank account goes to zero and my kid’s friends spit in their faces.


Rule #1: BAD PEOPLE = BAD RESULTS

When I am in a bad relationship, I lose money, friends, self-esteem, time, and health. Period.

Someone gave me this advice: “You’re not going to end up dead. You’ll end up in jail.”

Dead, jail, broke, friendless. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want any of it. End it.

And this holds just as much for a bad business partner and a bad friend. People who bring you down, need to leave.

What if you are the bad person?

No problem. If you’re the one bringing people down, then surround yourself with good people and you will be inspired by them and you will start being a good person.

So either way, get rid of the bad people in life.


Rule #2: YOU’RE AN ALIEN FOR JUST ONE DAY

Every day when I wake up, before I even open my eyes, I say, “Where am I?” I breathe deeply. I wiggle my fingers and toes. I peek out and see the sunlight coming in my eyelids.

Ok, I’m on Earth. Today. I’m a human. Today.

Who am I?

I start to filter through my memories, figuring out who I am. For the day.

Because I’m an alien on a mission. I’m sent to this one body for just this one day and my only purpose is to determine how to improve his life for just this one day.

And then I will be off to a new body. So the coast is clear. I can do whatever I want that I judge will improve this person, this body I am inhabiting for the day, and then I move on without regrets of anxieties.

Trust me: this helps me make better decisions, this helps me to not worry, this helps me to feel less regret.

If it sounds stupid, you don’t have to do it. This is what works for me.

I’m on a mission to make “james” a better person today by the time he goes asleep. And if I fail, then the Universe will explode


Rule #3: CHOOSE YOURSELF


Rule #4: IDEAS ARE THE CURRENCY OF THE 21ST CENTURY

It’s ok when nobody believes me on this one.

But gone are the days when a degree and a title will guarantee you a safe job, promotions, salaries, and a stable life.

Ideas and skills will propel you to vision and purpose…to success and freedom.

How do you do this?

a) Write ten ideas a day to exercise idea muscle (it doesn’t matter that I’ve said it before. It’s how I remind myself to do it every day.) When I haven’t done this, I’ve lost my life, when I do this, I help everyone around me. It’s that simple

b) Always learn from everything. Everyone I speak to. Everything I read. Everything I do. I try to remember and write down ten things I’ve learned.

They don’t add up. They multiply. Because ideas have sex with each other and make thousands of new ideas.

Because things you learn, connect the dots with other things you learn and spit out unique ideas nobody has ever thought of. This is how the universe has grown ever since the Big Bang.

Your brain gets overpopulated and eventually actions spill out. Which leads me to:


Rule #5: ACTIONS > WORDS > THOUGHTS

Everything done in history is the result of an action being DONE.

Not a thought. Not a word. Only actions are recorded by the scribes of humanity.

Do something today. Take a course. Learn how to shoot a bow and arrow. Start a book. Connect two people who can help each other. Raise a child. Build a school.


Rule #6: HELP PEOPLE

If you just help yourself, you live a small life. If you have a reason to get out of bed that is bigger than you, you will have a big life.

Some people worry about their Instagram likes. Other people every day try to help others.


Rule #7: The 1% RULE

Every day try to get a tiny bit better in physical health, emotional health, creativity, and spirituality.

1% a day compounds to 3800% per year. It’s amazing what this means. What this has done for my own life.

I’ve gone from suicidal and depressed to starting companies and writing books just because of this one rule, rule #7. If you forget rules 1-6, they are all derived from rule #7.

[ RELATED: How to Be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps ]


Mike Tyson is looking over my shoulder.

“Remind them, James.”

You have to remember when you’ve been punched in the face, when you are bleeding flat on your face on the floor, to get yourself up and do these rules.

You have until the count of ten. Or you lose.

The only way to survive is when everything is against you, when you are about to go into a life coma of depression and anxiety, that these rules are what will change you and save the world.

Even just pick one and DO it. That’s how you get off the floor. Just one.

This is your mission.

Thanks Mike. I love you.

  • Jai Preston

    James, two things:

    Firstly, I agree with all of these rules. I love rule 2.

    Secondly, I love what you do. I know you probably get this all the time, but I don’t care. I think what you share with your fellow beings is inspiring, heartfelt and very, very helpful. Be it through your podcasts, books, blogs posts, Quora answers, or any other medium, I always feel truth, honesty and integrity coming from you. It is these things, along with your deep wisdom and sound knowledge, that make what you do so profound. And it is for that reason I say..

    Thankyou James, and keep going.

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  • Angie Clark

    Mike Tyson dreams, alien adventures, and a listicle. You crack me up, James. Well done.

  • James Buechler

    Great stuff. I had hoped to see you speak at South by Southwest but that’s okay cuz I read you everyday comma Thanks James.

  • I need to read this article every single day. Thank you.

  • The going back to basics approach contained in “Choose Yourself,” focusing on the mental (10 ideas a day), physical (exercise/sleep/rest), emotional (eliminate bad people and things/hang around good people) and spiritual (be grateful) have changed my life.

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  • Leslie Hickcox

    James, I love your heart and your mind and all the cool stuff you write about!

  • 1% compounded. The brilliance of compound interest has been proven over and over but we don’t teach that enough. Thank you James.

  • About Creativity

    Very good.

  • About Creativity

    Very Good.

  • Thank you for sharing, James. I love the “Alien” idea.
    One day at a time.

  • byhisgrace

    Love you. Just what I needed to read, and as Karl Kruse writes: I will read this every day.

  • kbatku

    #1 – the “bad person” who realizes he’s bad, then surrounds himself with good people to learn their ways: WRONG

    Firstly, the bad person will by now have alienated every good person in his life – there won’t be any more left to “surround” himself with. And if you follow the advice of the first part, bad people are to be avoided at all cost.

    So what is the bad person to do? I’m assuming they are among the 3-5% of bad people who have some kind of spiritual awakening, realize they are assholes, and set out to change who they are and how they interact with the world.

    So a bad person is going to have a hard time finding himself with good people to hang around. He should try going to church, volunteering, maybe enrolling in some community college courses. There are always going to be places where good people and bad mix and if the bad person actually changes then slowly he will acquire good people friends around him.

  • Barthélemy Ehui

    thanks James!