Submitted by Rob Sullivan

rob sullivan is an author and professional development speaker. his book is "getting your foot in the door when you don’t have a leg to stand on", and his website is he also maintains a blog at story sparking.

Here are Rob's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Don’t take yourself for granted.
It is truly sad how many people never recognize the important contributions they make either because they don’t stop to consider the impact of their involvement, or because they don’t want to sound like they are bragging.

When I ask my coaching clients what people would be surprised to learn about them, I often hear comments like, "Oh, nothing really. I just did the job I was paid to do." But the more I dig, the more I discover amazing accomplishments that otherwise would never have been communicated. In our current economy, it is more important than ever for people to know what you have done and how you made a difference. I call it the "It’s a Wonderful Life Approach" to marketing yourself. Be ready to describe how things are different - preferably better - because of your involvement. That’s the key to marketing yourself effectively.

2.) Before you speak, ask yourself, "Is what I am about to say an improvement over maintaining silence?" If the answer is "No", keep your mouth shut.
From what I understand, this is a Buddhist principle. I am not sure where I first heard it, but it has stayed with me for years. I wish I could tell you I faithfully practice this rule, but that wouldn’t be true. I am, however, working on it. Generally speaking, whenever this question pops into my head, I treat it as a warning sign that I need to either keep quiet or watch what I say. This level of awareness is, by itself, a significant improvement and has saved me from many potentially embarrassing moments.

3.) Don’t use emails or texts to deliver bad or disappointing news.
Without question, the inappropriate use of text messaging and email is the biggest single impediment to our professional development and spiritual growth. Unfortunately, the bad habits have already begun to extend beyond personal communication to business. It is incredible how many people of all ages hide behind texts and emails for everything from delivering feedback to cancelling plans — even ending relationships. This is classless, cowardly, and unprofessional. If you are communicating news that another person is going to find disappointing or upsetting, it needs to be done in person - or at the very least by phone. It should NEVER be done via text or email. You may not care how the person feels or responds in a given situation, but you should care because your behavior is ultimately going to impact your reputation. It probably already has.

4.) Read the ingredients.
This is another area I’m committed to improving. To paraphrase Jimmy Buffett, some days I treat my body like a temple; other days I treat it like a tent. By raising my awareness about what I put in my body, I have discovered some truly scary food out there. For example, in Kellogg’s Eggo Buttery Spread, there are 12 ingredients — not one of which is maple syrup. Butter isn’t one of the 12 either. Horrifying.

5.) Pursue your passions.
Have you ever considered what you’d really like to do and written off the possibility with either of the following thoughts?

- "I’d love to do that if only someone would give me a chance."
- "I could never make money doing that."

These are the warning signs that you haven’t done a good self-assessment and are in danger of not following your heart. Let’s start with the second one first. The easiest way to get past this limiting belief is to ask yourself, "Is anyone anywhere on the planet making a living doing what I want to do?" If the answer is "Yes", your next thought should be, "Then, I should be able to make a living doing it as well." Having said that, there are certain goals — like being a rock star — that require a back-up plan so you can pay your bills while you follow your heart. The only mistake you can make is to get involved in an unfulfilling occupation that doesn’t allow time to pursue your passions.

The other limiting belief is a bit more insidious because it places your power in the hands of someone else. Remember, no one is ever going to give you a chance. But they may hire you if you share your enthusiasm and provide solid evidence that what you want to do makes perfect sense as the next logical step in your professional development. In other words, you have to convince them that you’ve given this a lot of thought, you’ve taken steps on your own to prepare, and most importantly, that they aren’t taking a risk in bringing you on board. Once you have done that, your dreams will be within reach.

Rob currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.