Do something significant

27 rules from Richard Hamming and the science.

  1. Say to yourself “Yes, I would like to do something significant.”
  2. “Luck favors the prepared mind” (c) Pasteur
  3. Believe in yourself, have independent thoughts and have the courage to pursue them.
  4. Plant the little acorns from which the mighty oak trees grow (about ideas).
  5. People are often most productive when working conditions are bad.
  6. Turn the problem around a bit, change a defect to an asset.
  7. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity — it is very much like compound interest.
  8. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.
  9. Just hard work is not enough — it must be applied sensibly.
  10. If you believe too much you’ll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won’t get started. It requires a lovely balance.
  11. Great contributions are rarely done by adding another decimal place. It comes down to an emotional commitment.
  12. If you are deeply immersed and committed to a topic, day after day after day, your subconscious has nothing to do but work on your problem. And so you wake up one morning, or on some afternoon, and there’s the answer.
  13. Always ask yourself: “What are the important problems of your field?’’,”What important problems are you working on?”. Because if you do not work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work.
  14. One of the chief tricks is to live a long time!
  15. There is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder.
  16. It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
  17. You should do your job in such a fashion that others can build on top of it.
  18. It is a poor workman who blames his tools — the good man gets on with the job, given what he’s got, and gets the best answer he can.
  19. It is not sufficient to do a job, you have to sell it.
  20. You set your deadlines; you can change them.
  21. You can educate your bosses. It’s a hard job.
  22. You will fight the system rather than learn to work with the system and take advantage of all the system has to offer.
  23. You should dress according to the expectations of the audience spoken to.
  24. Amusement, yes, anger, no. Anger is misdirected.
  25. You should look for is the positive side of things instead of the negative.
  26. If you really want to be a first-class scientist/manager/engineer you need to know yourself, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your bad faults.
  27. It’s very valuable to have first-class people around.

Go forth, then, and do great work!


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