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THE International MBA - InfoBytes
THE International MBA - InfoBytes
11 June 2020,

03 JUNE 2019
What is the first law of life?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.
Many things in life have one important law that comes before all others. In other words, if you break that law, all other laws are pointless.

Consider, then, what the first law of flying could be. In the 2002–2003 TV series “Firefly” set 500 years in the future, a renegade crew on a small spacecraft is trying to survive while traveling unknown parts of the galaxy and evading warring factions and authority agents after them. According to Captain Malcolm Reynolds, one of the main characters in the series, the first rule of flying is love. He says that if you take an aircraft in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds.

While that “first law” may be valid 500 years from now, one of the “first laws” of flying today is: always make sure the flight area is free from obstacles. Put another, much clearer, way that law could read: don’t hit the ground.

If a pilot hits the ground, all of his skills, training, knowledge and experience become irrelevant.

Naturally, to fly successfully, you have to follow a lot more than just the first law. The first law however gives you the opportunity to apply the other laws and, as you apply the other laws, so you achieve success.

Another “first law” of flying might be: take offs are optional, landings are mandatory.

Now, if we were to look at life – our personal and professional lives – what would we consider the first law of life to be?

Wikipedia has the following to say: “The Law of Life is a term coined by author Farley Mowat in his 1952 book People of the Deer, and popularised by Daniel Quinn, to denote a universal system of various natural principles, any of which tend to best foster life ...”

It continues: “In his 1996 novel, The Story of B, Quinn writes, ‘A biologist would probably say what I'm calling the Law of Life is just a collection of evolutionarily stable strategies — the universal set of such strategies, in fact.’"

“Quinn points out that this is a physical law, like gravity, not a commandment like, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ nor a legislative ruling like, ‘Pay taxes’. As he puts it, the latter two are written where only man can read them (in books), and that they can be changed by a vote, while the Law of Life is written in the fabric of the universe and cannot be broken. Those who do not follow the law simply won't live.

So what would be the first law of life to you?

If you’re tempted to say it’s, “Don’t die,” you’re probably right! If you are no longer in this world, all the other laws of life become irrelevant – they no longer apply to you. After all, you can’t do onto others as you would have them do unto you when you’re dead.

But there’s a lot more to life than just not dying.

There is life in all of the activities and relationships you have – what about the life in your relationship with your partner, or with your children, or with your friends, or with your parents, or with your employer, or your immediate boss, or your colleagues, or those who report to you?

What would you consider to be “first laws” when dealing with each of these? Only you can answer this. Why not draw up a list of “first laws” that will help you with your different roles in life, laws that have to be obeyed as a matter of priority. Then, once you’ve decided on the first and other laws for your life, bear another eternal truth in mind …

As with the physical laws in life (law of gravity and so forth), all universal laws take effect whether you believe them or not. You may not believe the law of gravity. Try jumping off a ten storey building and see what happens. The law of gravity will take effect whether you believe it or not.

Then, once you’ve decided on what the first laws of life are in each sphere of your life, make sure you respect and obey them!

HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent. Visit our website.

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