Frank Lloyd Wright’s 10-Point Manifesto for His Apprentices.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day — or List Day.
This Wednesday: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Manifesto for His Apprentices.

I’ve posted this before, but I’m posting it again, because I love personal manifestos — for instance, on the home pages of their blogs, Bob Sutton includes his 17 Things I Believe about work and Madame X lists My Rules about money (look in the right-hand column).

I read Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autobiography and found it very thought-provoking. In it, he includes a list of the “Fellowship Assets” that he outlined for the architecture apprentices he worked with at Taliesin, his summer home, studio, and school.

1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation

This list was interesting to me, because although it’s quite short, it packs in a lot of big ideas and strongly held views. It really started me thinking — to ask, “What does Wright mean by ‘inorganic’ or even ‘nature’?” “What’s an ‘honest ego’?” I particularly loved #5 — the inclusion of humor on this list, and the tying of humor to a sense of proportion. I’d never thought of humor as an expression of a sense of proportion, but I think that’s one reason that humor can be so helpful at difficult moments.

Writing a personal manifesto is a very interesting exercise; it really forces you to articulate your values. Have you ever written a manifesto for yourself? Was it a useful exercise?

I wrote my manifesto, though I should probably update it. Scroll down; my manifesto is below some other manifestos. I love manifestos! If you have one, post it please. They’re so fascinating.

I need to write my habits manifesto. That will be fun. But first I need to finish the book. If you want to hear when my book about habit-formation goes on sale, sign up here.

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  • Gillian

    In early 2011, after reading The Happiness Project, I made a list of My Commandments. I haven’t looked at the list in ages – until now. I see a few commandments I’ve broken! I’ve thought a lot and learned a lot in the intervening 3+ years so this list needs revising but this is the original:

    1. Be Gillian.
    2. Consider my effect on the planet in everything I do.
    3. Nurture and cherish my personal integrity.
    4. Cultivate an interior life.
    5. Act the way I want to feel.
    6. Do it now.
    7. Be polite and be fair.
    8. Be generous (not only materially).
    9. Be open.
    10. Be loving.
    11. Be cheerful.
    12. Enjoy the process.
    13. Spend out (use the good china).
    14. Identify the problem.
    15. Lighten up.

    • gretchenrubin

      What a great list.

  • Heather Nilson

    That IS interesting. Thank you for sharing again, because this is the first time I’ve seen this. You are so right-his insight about humor being a sense of proper proportions is notable. It’s actually very closely related to an L.M. Montgomery line in Anne of Green Gables. Early in the book, she describes humor as being “a sense of the fitness of things”. That line struck me as a real insight into the nature of humor even at the age of 9 (not that I expressed it that way)–so strongly that I’ve always remembered it. I never came across anything, even in philosophy classes up through college, to beat that perspective on humor.
    I am also quite struck in your list by Wright’s statement about “commonplace (inorganic) elegance”. I can tell already that I’m going to be thinking about that one for a while.

  • Gillian

    Given my values, I particularly like the eye/heart/courage to see/feel/follow nature. I also really like the last one – instinctive cooperation – a very valuable trait!

  • aleishacd

    I followed the link to your personal manifesto and love this one: ” Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.” I am trying to declutter this summer and find this a very easy, helpful way to look at it as I tend to keep a lot of things because I think I *need* to.

  • Zakiah

    At the end of a particularly challenging year in 2011, I wrote this down myself to remind myself that the year had not been in vain. Coincidentally, that was also the year I read your book – The Happiness Project.

    1. Sometimes you need to go away to make a comeback.
    2. You can lose love and find it again, but not trust.
    3. God is watching over me. Always.
    4. Retail therapy can provide temporary relief.
    5. You always already know what you need to do before you realise it.
    6. Listen carefully to your gut feeling.
    7. You will slip up now and then, and the people who truly love you will understand this.
    8. It is possible to fix a broken heart.
    9. Be thankful for the little miracles in your life because they are tiny ripples that form big waves.
    10. It is difficult to be kind all the time, but try anyway.
    11. Love at first sight is not for everyone.
    12. Make time for friends who can lift your spirits.
    13. ‘Everything in moderation’ can be applied to all aspects of your life.
    14. Teaching is the best way to learn.
    15. The love that a child has for you transcends everything.
    16. Don’t be selfless, leave some love for yourself.
    17. Recognise that not everyone will be worthy of your argument.

    • gretchenrubin

      What a thought-provoking list —

  • Rebeca

    Hi Gretchen – love reading other manifestos too. Here is the one for Fit to Inspire – we are a community inspiring women (focus on 40+ year olds) to greater fitness and well-being.

  • Mimi Gregor

    As Gillian did, I also was inspired to draw up a list of “commandments” after reading The Happiness Project. Some of them I’ve swiped from you, and some of them are things I’ve gleaned from other books or from experience.

    1. Be Mimi.
    2. Just slide.
    3. Let it go.
    4. Act the way I want to feel.
    5. Do it now.
    6. Don’t take things personally.
    7. Enjoy the present.
    8. Don’t save it for a “special occasion”.
    9. Avoid false economy.
    10. Don’t beat yourself up.
    11. What you do every day matters more than what you do occasionally.
    12. Don’t expect it to last forever. Everything ends, and that’s okay.
    13. You can’t change anyone else.
    14. Unitask.
    15. As much as possible, be truthful.
    16. Observe the Ego.
    17. Practice kindness.
    18. Always opt for comfort.
    19. If you don’t love it, live without it.

  • Kelly Simmons

    Years ago, after writing mission statements for many companies, I wrote one to guide my writing career: “To write things that make people laugh or give people hope, and contribute to the culture in a positive way.”

  • Jill

    I just finished reading The Happiness Project and I am in the middle of forming my own manifesto and my own resolutions. To date, my personal manifesto is as follows:

    -Thinking something doesn’t make it true. Wanting something doesn’t make it real.

    -Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

    -Leadership is about the growth of others, not the growth of yourself. By helping others grow, you will be growing yourself.

    -Remember how small we really are. There is a great, big world out there.

    -Choose “busy,” not “stressed.”

    -We can only make decisions and changes for ourselves, not for others.

    I love reading your manifesto, and all of the wonderful thoughts presented in the other comments!

  • Penelope Schmitt

    I am going to try to post here a ‘manifesto’ based on what I think I am actually DOING rather than what I ‘wish’ I was doing.
    1. If something is important for my well being, do it EVERY day.
    2. Silence is better than engagement in a futile verbal battle; no one wins those.
    3. Work to create something every day. MAKE something beautiful for others as well and as often as you can.
    4. The years are INCREDIBLY short. Hold the children in your life close with special love because their youth is so precious and so brief.
    5. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy as much as you are able.
    6. Make memories! Do things that matter to you and make sure you find a way to remember them–pictures, writing, whatever.
    7. Your health and a good night’s sleep are probably your most precious assets. Take care!
    8. You manage what you monitor, so watch what you eat, what you drink and how much physical activity you can enjoy.
    9. Foster your family ties. They may be more important than you think.
    10. That bureaucratic stuff? Keep up with it and reduce nagging guilt and frustration.

  • You have inspired me to write a personal manifesto! Thank you.

  • Thanks for all that you contribute, Gretchen! You make the world a better place!

    Here’s my manifesto:

    Life is not a dress rehearsal. Choose to respond rather than react. One of something is often plenty. Mindset matters. The journey is at least as important as the destination.

    Gratitude is available 24/7. If you’re living someone else’s life, stop. What you focus on multiplies. Your worth and productivity do not equate. It takes a lot of small “no’s” to get to a bigger “Yes!”

    Fear is for moving through, not for staying stuck in. Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. Give yourself the gift of being engaged in life. Clarity is worth seeking. Get out of your own way.

    Reinvention is your right. There’s more to life than marking off your To Do list. Don’t settle for an environment that doesn’t energize. Awareness without action is only half the equation. Contribute and then contribute some more.

    Midlife crisis or midlife awakening? You decide. Don’t let consumerism consume you. Living your strengths is incredibly attractive. Listen and silent have the same letters. Loving someone is an act of bravery.

    You teach people how to treat you. Relationships don’t evolve unless you do. Passion and purpose aren’t only for other people. Knowing you are enough changes everything. Kindness counts.

    Have a fantastic relationship with yourself. Be curious. Don’t let your livelihood kill your zest for living. Don’t forget to look both ways, but then get into action and cross the street. Waiting to be happy is the worst kind of wasted time.

    You can see a designed version here:

  • Gillian

    Earlier I posted my Commandment list that I created more than 3 years ago after reading The Happiness Project. This prompted me to review the list considering what I have learned in the last 3 years. I have kept many, dropped a few and added a few. My current version, still a work in progress, is as follows:

    1. Be Gillian.
    2. Consider my effect on the planet in everything I do.
    3. Nurture and cherish my personal integrity.
    4. Always accept responsibility for my mistakes.
    5. Never accept credit for ideas or work that rightfully belongs to another.
    6. Cultivate an interior life.
    7. Nurture and cherish the friendships that matter.
    8. Try to include some physical activity every day.
    9. Minimize rules, schedules and lists in favour of engagement in productive and passionate work.
    10. Avoid the tyranny of the false “should”.
    11. As much as possible, pursue the activity I most feel like in the moment and do it joyfully.
    12. Make room for serendipity and savouring life’s small but special moments.
    13. Make time for contemplation, nature and music.
    14. Be polite and be fair.
    15. Be generous – especially in spirit.
    16. Be loving, kind and cheerful.
    17. Create a celebratory atmosphere in daily life – use the good china.

  • JeffreyDavis11

    Gretchen~ Thanks for posting this. I love his terseness and that he made it for his apprentices. Smart.

    Great list here of manifestos.

    Here’s my Compass of Wonder: Reminders to Keep On-Track
    1. Rise above the world of buzz.
    2. Live in a hut of questions more than in an ivory tower of answers.
    3. Create with integrity, not in battle. (The “rest of your life” outside of your creative work is part of your creative quest, too.)
    4. Face uncertainty and challenges with wit, wisdom, and wonder.
    5. Get grit. Bounce back.
    6. Act, practice, and live designed for improvement.
    7. Open up instead of size up.
    8. Forget the stories that buzz inside your head. Remember the Story that burns inside your body.
    9. DIT (Do It Together) more than DIY.
    10. Engage to make a difference. Give & take with wise failure.
    11. Design change-making experiences. The new world waits.
    12. Don’t just build a list. Build up your patch of the planet.
    13. Invite wonder at every junction.

  • Jweb2.0

    This is the first time I have encountered another person holding the idea that humor is proportion. I have often wondered why a dead body in the closet is funny in a comedy and not funny in a drama. I think the answer is that in the comedy the viewer perspective is BIG whereas in a drama it is SMALL. HUMOR MAKES US BIG.

  • Kumar Pushpesh Ranjan