Personal Protocols

What do I mean when I say Personal Protocol? Essentially, I’m talking about the way you are going to conduct yourself in any environment, situation, conversation, engagement, activity, and day.

This might sound like a no-brainer. You might believe that everyone should have a set of procedures for the way they are going to conduct their affairs but I think you’d be surprised – or maybe not – to know how few men actually have something like this in place for all aspects of their lives.

A personal protocol could be something you have formally written out or it could be something you think about prior to jumping into any given situation but, knowing how you’re going to behave before you get into an engagement will likely spell the difference between a successful situation and an unsuccessful one.

One of my favorite quotes is “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

How does that apply here?

Well, unless you know EXACTLY how you are going to act because you’ve thought about it, you’ve trained for it, you’ve rehearsed it, you’ve caught yourself in the trap of not implementing a protocol, you are likely to get reckless with yourself and others and get yourself into a world of hurt.

But this goes so much further than physical training only. It permeates every element of your life from your physical well-being to your spiritual health to your emotional and mental fortitude and just about anywhere in between.

In fact, I have a small, simple little protocol for Facebook arguments. It’s my one-response rule. Whenever I have someone who hates what I have to say or resorts to attacking me personally I respond ONCE to their comment. Regardless of what they have to say after that, I DO NOT RESPOND.

It’s been hard, especially when I have something clever to say but I can’t even imagine how much time and how many headaches this simple strategy has saved me.

And that, my friends, is the point of personal protocols. And, that is what I want to touch on first – why it’s critical you incorporate your own set of personal protocols. The list is long but for the sake of time, I’ll talk about three.



First, let’s talk about your resources. They’re finite. Your money, your time, your energy. There have even been studies showing that your will-power is fleeting.

If you run around with your head cut off without a care in the world until something actually happens, you’re bound to drain or completely eliminate these resources for the time that you might actually need them.

We run around all day engaging in these low value activities and, unless we become more aware of how we spend our time energy, and resources, we’ll run out too soon.


Next, establishing personal protocols allows you to reduce emotional mistakes. How many of you have found yourself in a conversation with your wife only to find yourself pissed off at each other without even remembering what the argument was about?

I have and I can point to the fact that I went into that conversation without a clear expectation of what I actually wanted and how I was going to get it.

Whether it’s asking for a raise, starting a project with your team, having a conversation with your wife, disciplining your children, you have to have a protocol in place that allows you to keep your cool regardless of how someone else may be behaving.

Not only is it good for your sanity but it will help you get more of what you want.


And third, maximum efficiency. I already eluded to this but we spend so much time focused on things that don’t matter when, in all reality, if we spent just a little more time up front thinking about how we were going to execute, can you imagine how much more effective we’d be.

What if all you did was focus on what I call “High-Value Targets” all day long. How much more money would you have in the account? How much better of a relationship would you have with your wife and kids? How many more pounds would you drop?

I can hear it now though, “You can’t focus on high-value targets only all day long.” I agree but I promise there are inefficiencies in your day that, if you spend a little more time focusing on what those were you’d be surprised at how much better you could do.

So, how do we do this? How do we establish our own set of protocols? You do it with a very simple three-step process.



Step one is to strategize. I’m not going to talk about this or any of the three at length because I’ve talked a lot about them in the past but what I will say is that it’s critical you know what EXACTLY you want and how EXACTLY you are going to get it.

Keep your eye fixed on the prize – the result you want and calculate the best way to get it.


Next, you’ve got to execute. You’ve actually got to implement your strategy. It’s probably not going to be perfect but, unless you’re willing to test your hypothesis, you’re never going to improve – you’re never going to get any better.

Get to work, execute to the best of your ability, then cap your execution with the third step which is to analyze.


Again, not going to get too deep into this one because we’ve talked about it before but this is your after-action review. And if you need a guide on this go to www.orderofman.com/afteractionreview.

You need to see if what you planned and what you did worked. If it works, write it down and do it tomorrow. If it doesn’t write it down and do something different tomorrow.

You string this process together over days, months, years, decades and you cannot fail.


So, you know the benefits, you know how to do it. Let me give you a couple of quick examples to get your creativity flowing before I sign out for the day.

You should have a personal protocol for the way you budget your money. You should have a personal protocol for the conversations you have with your wife and how you two decide to discipline your children.

You should have a personal protocol for the way you start your day and the way you end your day.

You should have a personal protocol for the way you conduct your projects at work. You should have a personal protocol for the way the chores are handled at home.

You should have a personal protocol for the way you’ll communicate in a difficult situation, how you would handle a confrontation, a natural disaster, an active shooter, or any other scenario you may find yourself in.

How are you going to handle your workouts, or the clothes you wear, or the presentations you give?

You guys understand this? You should have a personal protocol for anything and everything.

I know this is not easy. I know it’s going to take some work. It has for me and I’m only skimming the surface on the protocols I will create for myself. But, at the end of the day, I know it will be worth it because I’ll have that many more resources, the ability to control my emotions, and operate with maximum efficiency.

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