Among the bookshelves in my home and those in my office, I have hundreds and hundreds of books that I cherish. They range from science, history and math – to sales, marketing and business – to sports, nutrition and wellness.

While entire books have impacted me, more than likely it has been a single concept or thought that has stayed with me longest. You know, that one “nugget” that makes the while book worth it!

One such nugget came from Jason Fried’s “REWORK” – a business book for people who are sick of business as usual. It’s a quick read that I highly recommend.

But the real prize in the book is contained in chapter 3, titled “GO” … specifically a 2 ½ page section called “Draw a line in the sand.”

In it they write, “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”

It’s a remarkably simple concept with tremendous implications.

For days and days and days I couldn’t get it out of my head. The focus of the book is business … how identifying what you stand for (e.g. simple software in the author’s case) enables you to draw the line (e.g. Whole Foods doesn’t carry products with artificial ingredients) and eventually leads you to an understanding what you’re willing to fight for (e.g. telling customers “no” to added features, again – in the author’s case) … but I kept turning the concept back to my personal life:

  •    What do I stand for?
  •    Where do I draw the line?
  •    What am I willing to fight for?

Maybe you already had this figured out, but I didn’t … not exactly anyway.

What I didn’t have was a manifesto, a document – something in black and white that I could point to and say – These are the things I am willing put definition to. These are the things I believe in. Here are the lines that can’t be crossed. Here are the things I’m willing to defend.

So I sat down and started writing.

A few weeks later I had it. A document. A piece of paper. A list of five things I believed in … five places where I would draw the line … and five things I could actively engage in.

Suddenly things became very clear – as Jason suggested they would. There was nothing to debate. Decisions became obvious. Things I had long struggled with simply fell into place – as they found resolution immediately because I had created a framework that protected me from the nebulous.

Since then I have updated the document several times – and eventually turned it into something that aligns my purpose and values – and what I want to do it business and in life.

It’s an exercise that certainly could change your business – and maybe even your life.