Portrait of the Artist as a Man
January 6, 2019

What would a Will User Manual look like?

Table of Contents

  1. What are we here for?
  2. Important Principles and Code of Ethics
  3. Issues/Causes I care About
  4. People important to me
  5. Personal Heroes
  6. How I interact with humans
  7. Bad Habits
  8. What makes me happy
  9. Things I want to learn/Skills
  10. How I work
  11. 40,000 Feet: Drive and purpose
  12. 30,000 Feet: 3-5 year vision
  13. 20,000 Feet: 1 year themes
  14. 10,000 Feet: Projects
  15. Runway: Task management processes
  16. Past year themes and assessments
  17. Creativity
  18. Exercise
  19. Error Codes
  20. Appendices

What are we here for?

This thing is a combination of ideas - a user manual as described by CPG on episode on Cortex #79 , a work manifesto like Rands’ How to Rands”, and sort of a aggregation of process related stuff I’ve been maintaining for years.

It is also an attempt to mark a point ion my life where I feel like… me. I have an identity, people and principles that matter to me and, for the first time in a while, I’m really content with the vast majority of the areas of my life. Seeing how this could or will change in the next few years, especially as I intend to separate the Horizons sections, which is taken pretty much directly from Getting Things Done by David Allen, and keep it updated every years.

I feel like I should be able to give this to a person who asks why I do what I do, or give them at least a portion, and they get a good idea of how I work.

This is probably unlikely and this is going to be pretty weirdly organized. And probably out of date in reality.

Important Principles and Code of Ethics

This is broken into 2 sections: Core Drive Active virtues

Core drives are things that are just who I am and drive the best qualities in me. They are so ingrained in my personality, I do not feel the need to actively track and work on them. Ideally, all Active Virtues become Core Drives.

Active Virtues are the things I’m currently working on. Behaviors or precepts that, when practiced, make me be the person I want to be but they aren’t a natural expression of who I am.

Pretty much the majority of this stuff came from Wrestling With Franklin - the multi year project to become more virtuous. Modeled after Ben Franklin’s own project, I slowly built better habits and specific precepts to help guide my decision making.

While I adhered to his 13 original virtues, listed below, I’m using this opportunity now that I’m writing this to define the virtues that matter for me and select them myself. Where before the expedience of the 13 already mentioned was beneficial, I don’t think they all serve me that well.

Core Drives

  1. Curiosity
  2. Sincerity
  3. Integrity
  4. Justice

Active Virtues

See Appendix A for Franklin’s virtues This list starts with what is listed on WrestlingWithFrankilin.com and as of 1/5/19 but will get adjusted right now to better reflect what I want to do next. Temperance • Measure your drinks • Compress meal times to a short time span (IF) Order • Plan your day, every day. • Clean rooms as you leave them. Resolve • Complete the tasks you lay out for yourself in the day. • Make promises you can keep and do your utmost to keep them. Frugality • Save first. • Think about next week, next month, and where the money is flowing Industry • Be engaged in what you’re doing. • Reduce wasteful time beyond what is refreshing and relaxing. Sincerity • Be honest in thought, speech, and deed. • Believe that people speak and act in their best interest. • Where speech or action seems unjust, seek to understand motivation including your own. Tranquility • Be not disturbed by trifles. • Step away when upset and breathe. Chastity • Be honest and aware in your desire. • Be direct in expressing you love. • Do not fear your sex and sexuality. Humility • Recognize your true value. • Be not boastful. • Recognize self-aggrandizemnet and minimize it.

Retired Virtues and Precepts

Cleanliness • Shower and prepare every day. • Keep your space around clean and tidy. • Leave the world a little cleaner than when you started. Retired: 1/5/19 Why: With the exception of shaving less frequently than I likely need, I’m pretty well set on personal cleanliness and the spaces around me.

Silence • Listen to understand in all interaction.. • Speak less; do not seek to fill the silence • Do not derogate, gossip, or villify others for my own satisfaction. Retired: 1/5/19 Why: I really don’t think this is a problem for me any more. I listen much more and do not respond overquick.

Moderation • Avoid excess in thought and deed. • Do not hold grudges nor belief of malign intent. Retired: 1/5/19 Why: I tend to just lump this in with Temperance so much because of the physical food excesses are my biggest problem. Even social media issues, I’m aware of and keep trying to get better about it

Justice • Understand that equality is not necessarily justice. • Recognize the abilities and contributions of people to a given situation. • Act justly according to circumstance and try to help others understand. Retired: 1/5/19 Why: This is really a high level drive for me now. Accessibility, equality, and social awareness are core principles and drivers.

Issues/Causes I care About


This has been the greatest driver in my recent career. And it has been the most rewarding. At work, it combines so many of the things that matter to or engage me - design, systematic process, compliance, discussion/presentation - that it always keeps me on my toes.

I truly believe accessibility is going to be a huge deal in the next decade, certainly at work but also in the general world. Technology has given voice to the voiceless.

In life, this has driven me to get involved in local politics. I’m on the Disability Rights Commission for Madison and I want to see how I can parley that into a larger hand in local politics. I can see myself moving into politics at some point in my life. Curious if starting this late creates a cap of progress.

Social Justice

Fuck exclusion. I do NOT tolerate ableism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, are any other -ia/-ism that aims to other” or exclude. I will call everyone out on it, irrespective of title or status or how well I know them. I expect others to do the same for me and I will endeavor to be better.

These things are systemic and we are a product of the systems in which we live. And humans are fallible but capable of learning. Give everyone that opportunity to do that learning, including myself, is how you build a sustainable and caring society.


Similar to the above, people need to see people like them in areas of power to give people a target to achieve. Diversity is key. Diversity is survival.

The homogenous, white, male social structure needs to be destroyed.

Personal Heroes

Ben Franklin

I have literally modeled significant portions of my life using him as a template. His intellectual curiosity, self-improvement, productivity tools, civic-mindedness are all things I want to see in myself.

The dude was prolific.


Franklin Stove Bifocals Armonica

Rocking chair Flexible

Bad Habits or Faults” in my personality How I interact with humans

  • Team members
  • Partners
  • Friends People important to me
  • Alyska
  • Courtney
  • Maryanne
  • Rich
  • Nathan What makes me happy
  • Hobbies How I work 50,000 Feet: Drive and purpose 40,000 Feet: 3-5 year vision 30,000 Feet: 1 year themes 20,000 Feet: Yearly Foci 10,000 Feet: Projects Runway: Task management processes Past year themes and assessments Creativity Exercise Error Codes (like things that are real problems I have) —


Appendix A: Franklin’s Virtues

Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Appendix B: Strengths Finder

Appendix C: Meyers-Briggs

INTJ (Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment)

According to Myers–Briggs the INTJ represents The Mastermind”. INTJs are one of the rarest of the 16 psychological types and account for 2―4% of the population.

INTJs are known as the Systems Builders” of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait of combining imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority come into play.

  • Marinas Margaret Heiss

Hallmarks of the INTJ include independence of thought and a desire for efficiency. They work best when given autonomy and creative freedom. They harbor an innate desire to express themselves by conceptualizing their own intellectual designs. They have a talent for analyzing and formulating complex theories. INTJs are generally well-suited for occupations within academia, research, consulting, management, science, engineering, and law. They are often acutely aware of their own knowledge and abilities—as well as their limitations and what they don’t know (a quality that tends to distinguish them from INTPs). INTJs thus develop a strong confidence in their ability and talents, making them natural leaders.

Appendix D: Hogwarts House

Gryffindor. So I always identified with Ravenclaw but when I took the test was VERY THOROUGHLY a Gryffindor, like not even a cusp between it and any other House. I was totally shocked but Maryanne, ever the observant one and way better with deconstructive pop cultural references than I, pointed out that I care deeply about honor and ethics and bravery will always win over fear in me.

When I look at it like that, I am fine with it. We’re they real things, I’d just be worried about the brash, act first, think later” themes running through the characters in the House.

In so far as a small set of books provides any realistic view into a thing… a fictional thing…

I approach the world like a Ravenclaw, though.

Appendix E: Favorite things

Color: Fuchsia Book: House of Leaves Musician: Zoe Keating

Appendix F: 40 Questions

(every December)

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