Andy and I sat in the restaurant of the Four Seasons in Denver on a sunny Thursday afternoon. He had driven down from Boulder after we had been introduced through a mutual friend.

I was impressed. He was a sharp, energetic young man of thirty years old. He had already built an incredible business, and it wasn’t hard to see why. He was curious, thoughtful, and methodical. He wasn’t afraid to put his ego aside to learn, and he flattered me by asking questions about life as if I had any of the right answers.

Having had more failures than success in life, I found myself telling him more about what not to do in life than what he should do. That was until he asked about creating rules for his life.

“Craig, when I read about your idea for creating rules, I was a little confused,” he said. “What is this going to do for me?”

“Well, Andy,” I replied, “Did you stop at any red lights or stop signs on your way here?”

“Of course,” he said.

“Well, imagine if you didn’t. In fact, imagine if there were no red lights, no stop signs, or no traffic laws of any kind. Think about the chaos that would cause.”

“Red lights put order and clarity into our travel, just like our personal rules put structure into our lives,” I said. “Humans thrive on structure. We need to earn our freedom.”

“But when you give someone complete and utter freedom, it often dooms them into demise. Take, for example, Prince, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, or Raphael de Rothschild (an heir to the wealthy Rothschild family that passed away due to a drug overdose). These men all had too much money, power, and freedom, and without structure, they eventually squandered their gifts and wealth.”

And so I insist you put into place Rules for Your Life. Should you bristle at that term, consider these alternative terms:

Your Operating System
Your Personal Commandments
Your Code of Conduct
Your Personal Life Philosophies

They all describe the same thing, a way to establish boundaries in your life and to set behaviors to which you aspire. If you have not read my 12 rules for life, I encourage you to do so here.

“But Craig,” you’re thinking, “How do I set Rules for my Life?”

First of all, I believe that you already have many rules for your life. You live a certain way, you have good habits that you follow, and you project a certain persona upon the world.

You’ve simply never sat down and put these rules — your operating system — to paper.

Let me guide you on how to do this. There are seven must-have rules for everyone. You can choose to add a few more on top of these seven, or simply start with these.

Rule #1 – Be consistent to bed and consistent to rise

Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week is the greatest thing you can do to have consistent all-day energy levels. Of course, there will be a couple of nights per week when you stay up late. That’s fine. But you must never stray too far from your wake-up time. Don’t sleep in. That sets off a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep the next night and feeling tired for the following two or three days. Instead, wake up on time and compensate with a mid-day nap or go to bed earlier the next night.

Rule #2 – Be healthy

Everyone should have a health rule. It might describe your eating philosophy (Paleo, vegan, etc.) or perhaps the type and frequency of exercise or stress reduction you do (“I take a one-hour hike in the fresh air three times per week” or “I lift weights three times per week for twenty minutes” or “I never miss a morning meditation session of 10 minutes”).

Rule #3 – Be productive in the morning

To get ahead in life you need to consistently work on what matters. The best time to do that is in the morning when you are without interruptions or distractions. Set a rule that you work on your number one priority in life for at least fifteen minutes after you wake-up. That could be Bible study, working on your finances and figuring out a plan to make more sales, or spending that time in exercise to regain your health. Fifteen minutes might sound insignificant, but done six (or seven days) a week for months on end brings incredible results.

Rule #4 – Be focused on building your wealth.

ETR’s founder, Mark Ford, taught us to become wealthier every day, even if it is just by a few dollars. And so we should all have a rule that helps us do so. For example, a sales professional might have a rule that “I make 5 sales calls before lunch every work day.” A writer might choose to “write 1,500 words before 2 p.m. each day” (Stephen King follows a similar rule, for example). Whatever your profession, there is a way to structure a wealth building rule that gets you closer to your financial freedom.

Rule #5 – Be aware of what NOT to do.

It’s important to know and act on your number one priority in life. It’s almost equally as important to know — and avoid — the things you should not do. If you don’t believe me, just ask one of the world’s wealthiest men.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people,” Warren Buffett once said, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Your rule might be “No drinking alcohol during the work week” or “I avoid checking personal email until after 7 p.m.” or you might have a rule similar to my 6th rule that says, “I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.”

Rule #6 – Be social.

Warning: Many people won’t need this rule. However, for some us, we sometimes need to be reminded to ‘come up for air’ from our work and spend quality time with our friends and family. Don’t tell me you haven’t been accused of working too much and ignoring important relationships. Even the most social amongst us could probably benefit from a reminder to rekindle old friendships that have gone dormant.

Rule #7 – Be good.

Finally, set in your code of conduct a rule about how you give back to the world. For example, you might say, “I volunteer two hours per week at the local humane society” or “I serve on the board of directors at my church every year.”

This might be a great place for you to institute an aspirational rule, where you aren’t yet living it consistently, but you know it would do you — and many others — a world of good.

When you tell the world the way you want to act (i.e. by sharing your rules with others), you’ll force yourself to live in accordance with your rules because no one wants to be thought of as a hypocrite.

That’s why I’ve made my 4th rule that states, “I act polite and courteous, and I do not swear.”

Honestly, I don’t act polite and courteous all the time, but I want to and so I made it a rule and I told the world. That is how you get accountability and improve. And you have every right to call me on this the next time you see me breaking my rule (I’ll appreciate it!).

As I shared these seven rule guidelines with Andy at our meeting, I could see his eyes light up with understanding. This template made it easier for him to design the right structure for his life.

My rules are not your rules. Please understand that.

But my template will help you build your rules and give you structure so you can earn your freedom, and have the amazing life you both desire and deserve.

Let me know what rules you create for your ‘personal operating system’ here

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How People with High IQs Think (Practical Examples)

You don’t have to be the Einstein of our generation to be successful. But in some companies and institutions, IQ has a tendency to correlate to qualities they value, hence the kind of people they seek and want to work with. IQ tests directly measure your ability to correctly identify patterns and logic problems under a time limit.

Those skills have a significant correlation to other skills that we value in a 21st century, post-industrial economy. It correlates with the ability learn complex concepts, learn to think critically, learn to identify opportunities etc.

IQ is probably overrated today. We place way to much value on IQ, and take it as being far more meaningful than it is.

These are two practical examples (from Calvin and Raffaele) of how people with high 1Qs think (from a social, intellectual, and practical point of view). How they perceive everyday interactions and situations. They originally shared these experiences on reddit.

1. Calvin Chopra, An inquisitive autodidact

I tested about 4 months back; my IQ was 150. My Myers Briggs Test Type (MBTI) is INTJ and I am 17 years old.

Socially: It is pretty screwed up. I can’t get along with kids in my school or other people around me. Also, it is an INTJ characteristic that people perceive me as arrogant; in fact I am very humble. I tend to be the silent one. I don’t talk much and sometimes I am shy.

I don’t talk to people in my age group, but instead have friends who are older than me. I also don’t believe in small talk; I don’t want people calling me unless it is extremely important and I think a real conversation is better any day.

However, When I am with like-minded people or in a place where I can discuss  ideas, I am good socially and I consider myself to be an ambivert contrary to the MBTI test. I am swift then. Also, I am good at reading people’s expressions and know what they are thinking about, but sometimes I don’t even know that they are listening to me.

I despise smartphones, any and every form of communication. I don’t use my smartphone quite a lot and I might switch to a feature phone. Also, I permanently deleted my facebook account after joining Quora. I don’t keep up with my old buddies.

Intellectually: At an early age, I discovered that I was passionate about robotics and computers. Also I am a voracious reader. I read, think and talk about subjects ranging from Neuroscience to metaphysics.

I am good at school now. I love to be intellectually engaged. I have a hard time doing dull work, but I motivate myself and do work well. As for music, I find solace in classical works of Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and the likes.

The dark side of this intellectual prowess is that I sometimes have to deal with analysis paralysis and I tend to over-plan things. I think and worry a lot, sometimes. Other times I get lost in my imagination; when I am inactive I tend to do thought experiments and try to analyze or build things in my mind.

Creativity: My mind has an inclination towards abstraction; I would study the fundamental nature of something, make assumptions and inferences and would try to build an abstract model. I would then try to use that model. That is why I love robotics.

I love to work on abstract stuff; I would do stuff with Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning and then use these domains to develop robots. Abstraction and Application, I work on these constantly.

Practicality: I was a strong idealist earlier; now I believe that practicality and idealism should go hand in hand. With my idealistic mind, I made many mistakes. I learnt from those mistakes and take my decisions wisely now.

I analyze the situations I am in, anticipate outcomes and know what will be beneficial for me. I do not have the Dunning Kruger effect, I know what I am good at, I know what I am bad at and I know that I don’t know much.

Procrastination: If I don’t have a plan, I will procrastinate, a lot. I need to make a plan a night before. That is the only way I can be productive. I don’t really need to be motivated to do something; having a purpose is enough. The next best thing would be a plan.

Although I don’t follow a plan rigidly but I keep working on things till bed time. I constantly make day logs and edit my plan, and I have a good work ethic. I am a non-conformist and brutally rational. I do not care about what others think about me, but I do not harm them either. If my apathy harms them, then I am in a dilemma.

[Note: Whatever I am or whatever I think, I do not attribute it to my IQ. Whatever I have achieved is by devoting time and effort in order to enhance my skills.

I believe regardless whether your IQ is 100 or 140, you can achieve solely by practicing and improving your skills; a priori intelligence is just because of genes and environment. You can be anything you want.

Also, People cannot be compared; there might be millions of people intelligent than you, millions dumber than you. If you want to get ahead embrace who you are. Be unique, do something only you can and discover your real potential.]

2. Raffaele Tranquillini, 16-year old student, programmer

Sorry for my English, my native language is Italian and actually I am 16 year old, so still learning. Even if I am not 160 or more, I have taken a few reliable IQ tests in the past and obtained scores between 145 and 150 in all. I’ll try to give a detailed answer to this question.

Notice: additional factors may influence this answer. I am an INTP on MBTI personality scale and I’m left handed (I’m not sure, but this may influence)

Childhood: in short, I was a strange child. At the kindergarden I used to look always behind the computers to see how cables were connected; I learnt reading and writing when I was three, and my kindergarten nannies remember me that I was extremely lively (too lively, sincerely), very good at puzzles that were designed for elder children, and that I used to talk always about things like gizmos, mechanical systems, possible projects using windmills and things like that.

In addition, I was not extroverted and not very friendly to my mates and teachers (that I now love for accepting me for how strange I was even when, often, I was completely crazy). At the primary school, the situation was different.

I got bullied very very often both from schoolmates and teachers, that, in a school of the peripheral area of a city, hated me because I was smarter than other children.

They used to put the blame on me for everything that happened in my class, they lied to my parents about things that, for they, I did (they were serious things, so my parents didn’t believe me) because they were just envious, exactly like my classmates.

Now I don’t like children and I hate everything related to the period of primary school, because it remembers me all that bullying of teachers and classmates.

The only positive aspects is that this experience taught me not only to respect everyone and avoid bullying, but to be always as generous and correct as possible with other people in order to avoid they made the same bad experiences.

Social skills: they were quite poor, but in the time with my very analytic behaviour I learned how the “society algorithm” works, and I am in some things even more able than normal people, because I don’t do anything in a spontaneous way in social occasions, and instead I know how to simulate well an emotion or another. However, there are still many points where this “algorithm” I learned doesn’t work, and that translates in social difficulties.

Everyday life: the main difference is that I see patterns everywhere. Patterns and algorithms. In addition, I am usually really fast in thinking logically, and when I speak I usually try in my head in 1/10 of second 4-5 different sentences and choose the best one (something not the best for that situation, though).

Then often I figure out many different solutions in a very short time to a problem, including the solution that I think will be the wrong one but the one that the others will choose, and I can’t explain the right one.

Often people tell me that my solution is wrong and I am stubborn, but I know it is correct, and after hours they will notice I was right. In addition, I always talk very very fast to keep up with my thoughts.

Other aspects of social life: I often feel alone among the people. I am between them, but I feel separated by a wall that isolates me on a place that is just physically near the people around me. They don’t understand me. They misunderstand me (in a bad way).

I feel as I had some sort of veil that doesn’t let me interact with them. And nobody believes me if I try to explain that. (This is one of the the many symptoms of Asperger’s I have… But I’m almost sure it’s also the IQ)

Interests: my mind is very good in some directions and very wrak in others. For instance, I am not good at maths (high school maths is IMO boring and I don’t want to study it) except for the very small part of it involving logical thinking.

I am very good at writing, but my main, obsessive hobby is programming. I love it, and I am programmer since I was 8. I love it because it’s good to use my logic. I’ve always been very bad at sport. Especially, I have never had coordination. I love quiet places, and I need to walk alone in quiet places for some kilometers every day to relax.

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