Issue No. 26 | Three (Simple) Rules

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” 

- Dr. Seuss

If you know me beyond The Art of the Edit, the fact that my knowledge of professional sports is slim (at best) won’t come as a shock. I’m all for sports and have always been athletic, I’d just rather be playing than observing. Case in point: I’ve lived in Seattle for two years and only just recently realized that Pete Carroll is the coach of the city’s NFL team — the Seattle Seahawks. (Seattlites love their Seahawks, so this is a hard fact to miss.) 

Carroll was actually the football coach at the University of Southern California during my short tenure there, but I haven’t paid much attention to his work since. But, somewhat serendipitously (by way of a podcast featuring Dr. Michael Gervais, a sports psychologist who works with the Seahawks and Carroll, which led me to this conversation with Pete Carroll) I discovered Carroll’s three simple rules for his team:

  1. Always protect the team.

  2. No whining, complaining, or excuses.

  3. Be early.

Although simple, these rules cover a bit of ground in terms of values, thinking, and behavior — and they’ve stuck with me as rules we could all benefit from as we deal with the modern challenges of near-constant negativity, inflated self-importance, and sense of powerlessness. Let’s take a deeper look:

Always Protect the Team. Early in our relationship, Matt and I agreed to discuss our grievances within our relationship only with each other — as they don’t involve anyone else. This was out of respect for us as individuals but also us as a unit — we’re a team.

In some way or another, we’re all part of a team — whether with family, in sports, with friends, or professionally. When you protect the team, you look out for each other, you don’t air the dirty team laundry,  and you never forget that you represent the team. It’s about honoring your commitment to the team and your teammates. 

(If your team isn’t worth protecting, that’s telling. Edit it out. Find a team that is.)

No Whining, Complaining, or Excuses. Own your actions (or your lack of action) and own your agency. If you don’t like your reality, whining, complaining, and making excuses won’t change it. They will only make things worse. Also, there is power in focusing and putting energy into what you want rather than everything that’s wrong.

I realize that this sounds serious. It doesn’t have to be serious. We’re all only human. In fact, the Seahawks turn this into a game, playfully calling each other out when someone breaks this rule No. 2.

Be Early. This is, of course, about respecting other people and their time, but it’s also about approaching your life in a way that enables you to show up early, physically and mentally. Think organization, planning, presence, and recognizing what you can reasonably accomplish in a given timeframe. (Bonus: Arriving calm and collected andfinding a few more minutes in your full day.)

In the last issue of The Art of the EditI explored the power of simplicity, and it’s the simplicity of these rules — just three, concisely worded — that lend them their power as fundamental principles. The conciseness enables us to remember them and the number speaks to their importance: If you do nothing else, protect the team; don’t whine, complain or make excuses; and be early.

It’s all an adventure, 



SIGNING UP FORThe Next Big Idea Club, a quarterly book subscription curated by some of my favorite thinkers, including organizational psychologist Adam Grant and Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking


APPRECIATING: Dr. Jen Gunter’s no-BS work to demystify and debunk misconceptions about women’s health. Check out her The Cycle column in The New York Times and her new book The Vagina Bible.



  • The many (lucrative) benefits of putting purpose at the core of your (business) strategy.

  • Growing slowly in a world that prizes speed and scale and being 100% okay with it. → Read Cait Flanders “How I Slowly Grew My Blog My Own Way.”

  • Reflection →

    “We have to celebrate, appreciate, and analyze our past performances, so that we can synthesize what we’ve learned and apply that knowledge to take it up a notch next time.” - Jocelyn K. Glei

    “Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this 'meaning making' is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.” - Harvard Business Review

APPLAUDING: My new and talented friend Laura Sullivan’s honest and soulful “How To / Transition Careers” feature on Doré.

WISHING: That there was an online tool to help you select interior and exterior paint palettes. I recently went through the pure agony of choosing exterior paint colors — the right shade of blue/black, the right white to go with it, the right sheens for the different surfaces. (Case in point ↓) There HAS to be a better way. Ideas?

The Art of the Edit - Paint Colors.jpeg
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