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policies are useless

A few days ago I blogged about personal behavioral codes I call "policy," as in, "I have a policy that I don't talk on the phone while driving." The stupid thing, though, is that I sliced up the tip of my thumb while cutting rock-solid bread with a large but crappy knife. I didn't have an explicit policy "be careful when using knifes" but would it really have helped me? Of course I should be careful when using knives, but a policy about it would only provide an illusion of awareness. Like a mission statement: either you have a mission, or you don't. Putting a mission statement into words and up on the wall or for that matter tattooed on your wrist is no substitute for actually having a mission. Missions are felt and acted upon. Safety is a way of acting not just a policy. The most important conduct is how I act hours before a hard deadline, the day before going on vacation, before the sun is up, before I've had coffee, after a night of tossing and turning. "Policy" is how I think I should act, but "history" is how I do act. "Policy" is a comforting illusion.

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