Rule #51 – Sometimes You Are Wrong

NCIS & Leroy Jethro Gibbs

I am a big fan of the television series “NCIS” and have watched every single episode that has been released. There are 15 seasons and about 24 episodes in every reason and each episode is about 40 minutes long. You can do the math – the amount of time that I have spent watching this television series.

I love this series because i like the central characters, specifically, the larger than life character – Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

One of the reason I like him is because of his steadfast character, his loyalty & the loyalty that he inspires in his team (among his peers, bosses and reportees). I believe that there is a lot that we can learn from him about being a great manager & even a great human being.

As it turns out, there are a lot of fans of Gibbs around the world. THere are fan websites, fan wiki pages, pinterest boards and discussion forums on what he does and his rules (51 of them).

Living by our own Rules

I think that all of us benefit from learning from Gibbs. Each one of us need to explore and decide the rules that will define how we live. Then live by those rules. Share these rules with people around us.

This will clarify what is important for us and how we will react to any given situation and they can understand why we reacted to a situation given our rules.

This also informs the team members about how we would expect them to react in a situation even if we are not around.

One specific rule that i really like and is relevant for entrepreneurs is Rule #51. This rule states:

Sometimes You Are Wrong!

As entrepreneurs, we are wired to be confident about ourselves and subsequently about our ideas. There are times when we can get too influenced by our very own confidence that we stop seeing the reality. It is important to have this confidence and an alternate reality that we are trying to create, there are sometimes when we are wrong. The faster we realise and accept that we are wrong in this scenario can be the difference between success and disaster.

So, while, most of the times, we need to back ourselves, but at the same time we need to put in place mechanisms and check points to catch ourselves when we are wrong. A few ways that we can do this could be by

  • Accountability Partners: Having accountability partners tell us when we are wrong. We need to always have people around us who are never afraid to tell us when we are wrong. This could be our spouses, business partners or even certain friends/employees. It is even better if we ask them to play this role in advance.
  • Hiring coaches: We can hire external coaches who can help us out in this regard. They can keep us honest and tell us the bitter truth when we need to hear them.

My Rules:

  1. Be Healthy (Physically, Financially, Emotionally, Spiritually & Intellectually)
  2. Be fiercely curious
  3. Be consistent & persistent
  4. Do work that matters (to me)
  5. Dont Judge others. To each his own!
  6. There is always a way out of any situation
  7. Better to Apologize than to wait for permission
  8. Experiment
  9. Keep things simple
  10. Instead of “Either / Or”, think “And”
  11. Go for “10x”
  12. Steal like an Artist
  13. Impossible is nothing.
  14. Slow Down
  15. Remember Rule No 6 (Never take yourself so goddamn seriously)
  16. Sometimes I am  are wrong!

Gibbs’ Rules:

You can find all of Gibbs’s rules here.

Your Rules?

So, what are your rules? Have you made your list? Have you shared it with your team? Do you live by your rules? If you have your’s, pls feel free to share them here with us. Publicly sharing your rules only helps you become accountable to them.


5 Rules to Follow – Simon Sinek

I came across this video where Simon Sinek talks about 5 rules to live by. He shares these lessons through some very interesting and compelling stories. I highly encourage to watch the video below (about 18 mins). If you don’t have the 18 mins and want to know what are the 5 rules that he talks about quickly, they are as follows:

Go after the things that we want:

There are two ways to see the world – to see what we want or to see everything that stands in the way of what we want. Rule is – We can go after any thing that we want. We just can’t deny anyone else what they want. Let’s focus on what we want and go after it rather than focus on what is in the way of what we want.

Two ways to think of the world - see what we want or see what stops us from getting what we want -@SimonSinek Click To Tweet

Sometimes we are the problem:

Let’s take accountability for our actions. There are times when we are the problem, our belief system is the problem, our mindset is the problem and at times our actions is the problem. Let’s own it up. Without accountability comes no responsibility and without responsibility comes no success. Let’s be accountable.

Without accountability comes no responsibility and without responsibility comes no power -@SimonSinek Click To Tweet

Take care of each other:

Its not about how tough, smart or how fast we are. It is about helping people to the left of us and the people to the right of us. Its about accepting help when we are offered and learning to to ask for help, when needed. Help is available for those of us who seek help. Remember, we can’t do it all by ourself.

Asking for and accepting help is a super power. Lets develop it @SimonSinek Click To Tweet

Learn to be the last to speak:

Lets learn the skill to hold our opinion till we have heard everyone else. Empathise. Lets try to understand not just what are the opinions of others but also why they have the opinion they have. Lets sit in a circle (no power play) and be the last to speak. Its the smart thing to do.

Holding our opinion till everyone else has spoken is the wise thing to do. @SimonSinek Click To Tweet

Its not meant for you but for your position:

Lets learn the lesson of humility. Lets learn that perks of success is for our position and not for ourselves. We  deserve coffee in a styrofoam cup. Lets not allow success and the perks that it comes with, go to our head.

We deserve our coffee in a styrofoam cup. Everything else is not for us but for our position @SimonSinek Click To Tweet

Here is the full video.


In conclusion, I think these are simple yet profound advice for not just students or youth of our nations to follow but for all of us to live our lives by. What strikes me the most about the video is the stories that Simon shares and how each of the story leads back to what he wants to talk about. Also, what shines is his optimism. I do share that with him, even today. Humanity has survived a lot of tests and I am sure that we will survive the current tide as well.


7 Lessons for CEO’s from Aam Aadmi Party’s Revival in Delhi

In a remarkable feat, upstart political party – Aam Aadmi Party, consisting of non-political contestants swept across the elections for the Delhi Assembly poll.

People across the nation had expected them to put a decent fight but not many expected them to win 67 of the 70 assembly seats. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that they did this after suffering a humiliating defeat during the national lok sabha elections that concluded less than a year ago.

In my opinion, there are a lot of lessons for CEO and business owners if they understand the way this party transformed itself and conquered the Delhi assembly.

  1. Customer Centricity: Post their defeat in the national elections, the leadership of the party went back to their customers (voters) and worked hard to find out the real issues are. They decided to leave everything else aside and focus on this state and the people of this state. They put the voters at the center of every single activity that they did. This focus showed off, as the voters (customers) felt that this is a party that truly understands their issue and has the will to do something about it.
  2. Competition: There is nothing much to be gained by focusing your efforts on discrediting the competition. This is a tactic that all political parties have used since time immemorial to sway the public and win elections. This is also a tactic that a lot of businesses use to win business from their prospects. Times have changed and now people want to work with someone who is focused on what they can provide and nothing else seem to matter. On the contrary, it might even be harmful for your organization if you continue to discredit your competition.
  3. Feedback and Action: Post their defeat in the national elections, the volunteers and the leaders of AAP, went back to their customers and sought their feedback. They did not stop there. They actually acted on the feedback that they received. Even though they were not in power, their leaders continued to work in their constituency as it they were the elected leaders. They ran more than 900 local meetings with the voter community to seek feedback on their own actions, the local issues and debated on how to solve those issues. Based on these debates, they had their topics on which they wanted to fight the elections ready, which ultimately, led them to victory.
  4. Co-create: People are more likely to continue to support you if they have been involved in the creation of the services or solutions that they would be sold. In the 900+ meetings that the AAP held, all the local issues were discussed and they asked the local people about the probable solutions. When you tap into the creativity & ingenuity of hundreds of thousands of minds that are close to their problems, chances are that you will come up with the best solutions. Best part is that since the people participated in this co-creation process, they are more likely to adopt them as well.
  5. Humility & Authenticity: One of the feedback that the party had received from their customers was that the party became too ambitious too fast and let them down prior to this elections. The leader of the party then publicly apologised for this mistake, at different forums. A politician apologizing to the public for a decision that the party took is unheard of in this nation, at least among the current generation of the voters. This honest apology played an important part in the voters again becoming open to giving the party a second chance to form the government. Also, all the leaders and the volunteers were genuinely interested in solving the local issues. This authenticity is critical. Even in business, there are times when you take decisions that do not go well with your customers. Instead of standing by the decision, it is always a good idea for the business leader to be humble, accept the mistake and show the measures put in place to avoid such decisions in the future. We have seen multiple examples when the leaders of a business respond quickly, decisively and honestly to a business escalation have ended up increasing the trust that their customers place on them.
  6. Work Hard: It is one thing to get on a pedestal and promise a lot of things but a totally different thing to organize and run 900 local community meet-ups and distill the feedback from each of these 900 meetings and come up with what Howard Moskowitz calls the vignettes, the critical pieces that are the deciding factors in the results. This is hard work and as they say, there is no substitute to hard work.
  7. Execute: It is not enough to have great engagement and feedback mechanisms in place but critical to actually execute on the plan. This is what the government will now be measured on The party has raised a lot of expectations by engaging their customers and identifying the critical areas where work needs to be done. Now comes the time when they have to prove to their customers that they will actually be able to execute on their vision and promises. This is what will determine the future of their organization and their ability to come back to power and from a business perspective, allows you to continually grow your organization.

These are just my learnings from the victory. What have you learnt? If you haven’t thought about this yet, please do spend sometime to think and make your own list of things that you have learnt. It is this ability to learn from things that happens to others around us makes us humans, different from all other organisms around the world.