Entrepreneur and author of new novel Call Me Joe, Martin van Es shares the guidelines he chooses to live by.
I grew up with the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament – you have probably heard of them. I have to say that I have not always managed to blindly obey them. For example, I was once divorced, I work on Sundays, our garden has some beautiful Buddha statues and I have not always honoured my father because he really did not deserve it. In my youth, the French actress Brigitte Bardot and the Dutch football player Johan Cruijff were my idols. And I confess to falling head of heels, without telling a soul, with a beautiful teacher as a teenager…but I don’t kill, steal, lie or swear. Four out of ten: that’s a mediocre score.
In 2020 it seems we don’t like commandments that much. With a broad view of our behaviour as a human species, I don’t think that it would be a bad idea to compile a manageable set of life guidelines.
In my recently published novel Call Me Joe I did exactly that. Because the number twelve plays an important role in the plot, it became the target number of guidelines. If it decreases, essential values are ignored. If there are too many, they are too difficult to learn and remember.
Universal guidelines for humanity
For years I asked people which universal guidelines they would find suitable for humanity. As an ethical or moral compass, an educational tool, a personal challenge, a benchmark, or as a connecting tool between religions and beliefs. The guidelines needed to be multifunctional. I challenged each person I discussed this idea with to add or remove one.
Here are a few of those guidelines, which I try to live by in my life:
- Be kind. The Dalai lama says: my religion is kindness. And being kind is for free!
- Know yourself. Knowing others is intelligence, but knowing yourself is wisdom.
- Try to forgive and say sorry.
- Enjoy and be grateful.
- Be honest.
- Be tolerant.