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The Ten Commandments for Gamechangers

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Communication is no one-way street. One CEO, reminded of the importance of two-way communication, snapped: “Of course I use two-way communication! I communicate to my people both verbally and in writing.” He had no inkling of that crucial dimension: listening.

According to tradition, God dictated the entire Torah to Moses, who listened carefully, then transcribed the dictation word for word. Powerful listening can lead to lasting accomplishments.

Commandment Four, “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it,” is about taking time out to reflect on what’s essential. In the barrage of e-mails, meetings, decisions we lose our center or go under unless we stop periodically.

Stillness has been the hallmark of the most distinguished gamechangers, from Churchill to Mandela, from Gandhi to Gates  (who regularly goes off the grid for “think weeks”). In a 24/7 world, the ancient institution of the Sabbath is one of the most ingenious solutions for the prevention of burnout and the adjustment of your compass.

Commandment Five is, “Honor your father and mother.” We take so much for granted—our parents, the people with whom we work and live, and the small details pivotal to large accomplishments. But whatever, and whoever you appreciate gives you power.

Appreciation is crucial in a world of highly mobile knowledge workers whose intellectual capital goes home with them every night (if they’re not already working from home); they will jump ship the moment they feel you don’t care enough. The more you appreciate people and what they bring to the table, the more they will bring to the table.

In Commandment Six, “You shall not kill,” gamechangers regulate their anger and frustration—when you’re fed up with the status quo, things can get quite emotional—and channel their emotions into productive energy.

History is filled with dictators who killed to get their way. Many gamechangers today still use force or intimidation. But twelfth-century Maimonides said that if you treat a person out of anger, it’s as if you killed them. Unless you channel rage into positive action, you might lose friends and allies.

Commandment Seven is, “You shall not commit adultery,” which can be anything from sleeping around to selling out on your principles. In complex cyberspace and global markets, the temptation to get away with cheating, lying or corruption is everywhere.

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