7 Laws for Sanity, Success and Happiness

by | Apr 3, 2024

7 Laws for Sanity, Success & Happiness

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”

– Roy E. Disney

Do you ever feel paralyzed by fear and anxiety when you’re trying to make a big decision? I know I do.

We live in a very tense, divisive and stressful time. And to make matters more complicated, there’s a massive ocean of information, marketing and data out there. What’s real? What’s right?

Add to that mix the wave of content and images being generated by AI. Do you find yourself checking images for the correct number of fingers and teeth lately? Yeesh.

It’s overwhelming!

Over the years, as I’ve wrestled with all of these things, I’ve found that I desperately needed a durable and versatile model for decision making.

I needed something that worked in my roles as a husband, father and friend, as well as in my professional life as a CEO.

Through that process, I’ve found seven laws that have worked extremely well for me.

These laws are divided into two sets: The Four-Way Test, and the Three Immutable Laws.

The Four-Way Test

The Four Way Test is a moral code developed by Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 in order to save the Club Aluminum Products Distribution Company from bankruptcy.

You can read the full story here, but in summary: Herbert developed the test, applied it in his personal life for 60 days, and then shared these four principles with his department directors (all people of different faiths).

Twenty years later, by applying the Four-Way Test, the company had paid off all its debts and paid their shareholders generously as well. Here it is:

The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Simple, right?

Test it out. Try running any of the problems and potential solutions you’ve got on your plate through this test. If they fail the test, toss them out and keep brainstorming until you find one that works.

When you’ve found something that works, deploy it and observe the results.

I’ve been applying this test for about twenty years now. In that time, I’ve never regretted using it in my decision making.

Now, there HAVE been times when I didn’t follow it to the letter, and THOSE times I do regret.

The hardest part for me is in that first line: ‘“…of the things we THINK, say, or do.”

For me, that order of difficulty goes from hardest to easiest in application. I’ve got enough discipline and filters that I do a decent job of controlling what I do, and on a good day, I do so-so at controlling what I say (still working on that).

But even regulating my THOUGHTS to adhere to the Four-Way Test is flipping TOUGH! No human alive will ever be able to achieve that.

But the discipline of TRYING to makes me a better person.

The next set of laws is specific to how we operate our business. This set of laws was developed and agreed upon by our team, and we call them the Three Immutable Laws.

The Three Immutable Laws

The Three Immutable Laws were created while our team was going through The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. Our team felt that we needed to codify certain moral, financial and philosophical stances that are a part of our company culture, that are a bit more specific than the Four-Way Test.

As a part of this process, three laws emerged as being top-tier and unbreakable for our team (hence “Immutable”).

Here are our Three Immutable Laws:

1) No Jerks Allowed

“Being a jerk is not acceptable. We won’t accept jerks as clients, vendors or employees. We will never be jerks. Life is too short. Jerks not allowed.”

This law was created to protect our team from toxic clients and toxic team members.

If you’ve ever brought on clients who seemed a little terse or disrespectful and then turned into a monster a few weeks in, you understand what I’m talking about here.

Since putting this law into place, we’ve had to turn away a fairly large number of very lucrative clients because we knew they wouldn’t pass this law.

I’m responsible for making payroll for my team and for my family, and turning away money hurts. But after that initial pain goes away, I sleep like a baby, because I have peace, and so does my team.

On very rare occasions, we’ve also had a team member who didn’t work out for various reasons. All I can say here is: Be kind, be gracious, but end it quickly. A team member who is a bad fit will make the rest of your team (and you) miserable, and that low morale will spread like a cancer through your business and be felt by your clients, as well.

When you let team members who are a bad fit go quickly, you’re also making it possible for them to find a place where they ARE a good fit. The odds are, they’re miserable working on your team, too.

When you look at our customer reviews these days, you’ll see that a lot of our clients say things like “And their whole team is happy!”

That’s the kind of feedback that warms my heart.

2) Blood Money

“We treat money like blood. Without it our business and our clients’ businesses will die. We treat it with the utmost care and respect. We strongly discourage the use of debt, cavalier spending, etc. in a business.”

Oooooh, “blood money.” Sounds scary, right?

Well, that’s the point. The number one reason that businesses fail is often attributed to “under-capitalization.”

Summary: They didn’t manage their money well.

That can mean they started the business with too little savings, or that they didn’t have a realistic budget, or they tried to leverage debt, and then debt came back around and straight-up leveraged THEM. Into a wall.

We’ve seen a lot of great ideas, great businesses, and great PEOPLE have their dreams crushed for all of these reasons.

That’s why these days, we’re very, very conservative in most of our client recommendations. We will not work with clients who use business loans or lines of credit to work with us, and we strongly discourage the use of credit cards.

For our own financials, we’ve found the following system to be critical to our success:

  1. Budgeting: We use a twelve-month revolving budget to keep our sales, spending and savings consistent with our goals.
  2. Savings: We set aside at least 10% of income for emergency savings and investment, and we retain 1-3 months of emergency savings.
  3. No Debt: We do not use credit cards or take out loans. If we want something, we have to save for it.
  4. Investing: We follow The Rule of 2x. If we’re going to spend money on something, it has to ROI 2x within one year. This prevents us from buying things and investing just because it’s shiny.

3) Get Rich Right

“Wealth is a vehicle for doing more good for ourselves, our community and our world.”

We created this rule because we believe that when good people with good values have plenty of resources, they’re going to do good things with it.

We want our team and our clients to be financially independent, well-invested, and to have bright futures and legacies ahead of them.

To that end, we’ve put the following systems in place:

  1. Health Insurance: We pay a large portion of health insurance costs for our team. Health is wealth, and I love my team and want to contribute to that.
  2. Profit Sharing: As our company grows and becomes more profitable, our team participates in those rewards by sharing in those profits. I’ve got a great team that works hard, cares for each other and our clients. I want to reward them with a share of the fruits of their labor. “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” – 1 Timothy 5:18”
  3. IRA Matching: We provide SIMPLE IRA plans with matching for our team. We want them to enter their golden years well-provided for, with a great nest egg to enjoy.

So there you have it! Those are the seven most important laws that we operate by at Aqua Vita.

What laws or decision making models do you use?

We’d love to hear about them!

You can email YOUR laws to: info at aquavitacreative.com

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Thank you all! We couldn’t do what we do without you.