Have you ever found yourself in a fix, wishing you’d never let some nightmare situation into your life? This could be a client, a project, a partner, or any number of people and things.

Yes. We all have. What were we thinking?

Often, we weren’t. Could be that was the problem.

Maybe we were all too happy to have the company, the connection, the new business, the flattery, the money.

Who knows?

In any case the results can be disastrous, and may end up costing us instead of enriching us, when we welcome in folks who are not a good fit with our values.

In the worst cases, they may have been wretched complainers or cheats, and in mild cases, subpar workers or just philosophically misaligned. Either way, it’s a drag.

More important to ask, now, is how do we bypass this mess from here on out?

The answer… Develop your “Articles of Appreciation™.”

What would you consider to be the primary deal breakers and deal makers for entering an agreement with you?

Which concepts and values are so core that they would serve as early predictors to the success or failure of moving forward in partnership?


As a new hire, when you start working at an organization, it’s not uncommon to be given an employee handbook as part of your onboarding. Somewhere within this tome you will likely find a section describing the code of conduct.

When written with feeling and intention, these rules serve to transmit the company’s culture and core tenets to its members after they’ve been hired — and before, as candidates going through the screening process.

These guiding principles will attract the right talent as well as repel those who would poorly click. In this respect, they function as a reliable filter.

Sure, there are your basic qualifiers: professional history and skill set. But to take it further, also integrate behavioral attributes and strength of character.

What would you consider to be the primary deal breakers and deal makers for entering an agreement with you? Which concepts and values are so core that they would serve as early predictors to the success or failure of moving forward in partnership?

It will be different for each of us. As such, it is important to get it all out of our heads and onto paper. To formalize it and make it central to our processes, rather than keep it arbitrary and mysterious.

ACTION: Meditate on this deeply. Come up with no more than 10 key areas, actions or attitudes, that you hold dear to the well-being of your company. And then, exercise the discipline to collaborate or cut accordingly.

Here is an example of my own design:

The Art of Hustle® “Articles of Appreciation™.”

Draft your original version too, so that you can finally bid farewell to the lemons and say hello to more legit rockstar prospects and partners!


The AOH Articles of Appreciation™


  • Blame nothing and no one. Blame is a sorry substitute for solutions. Make moves, not excuses.
  • Take 100% responsibility. When you do so, everything either becomes a win or another amazing opportunity to learn, and failure will cease to exist.
  • Celebrate often. You can either play the role of the victim or that of the victor, but it is impossible to do both – this is a fact. Live inside of the bright spots and maximize on your strengths and available resources.


  • Wrestle with a book. Supplemental personal and professional development texts will complement and rapidly accelerate your hands-on learning. However, it takes more than skimming its chapters to absorb any good book’s ideas. You must be a true pupil. Immerse yourself in it, engage it, grapple with it, allow it to shake you, ask questions of it, draw keen insights, and be mindful to take critical notes.
  • Ask how. Complainers too often ask why: Why is this happening, why me, why, God? Conversely, know-it-alls often reject novel ideas by judging: That won’t work for me, that won’t work for my industry, that’s something I already tried. Legit creative problem solvers focus instead on the how. How does that work, how can I make it work for me, how can I connect the dots?
  • Abide by the Golden Rule. Live and breathe by the mantra: “What I want for myself, I want for everybody.” That means, as much as you would like to receive praise, help, valuable introductions, compensation, referrals and positive reviews, you should also be regularly offering praise, help, valuable introductions, compensation, referrals and positive reviews. Share the wealth. What goes around, comes around.

Absolutely Not:

  • Assholes need not apply (Sorry — there is no nicer way to say it). Art of Hustle® aims to cultivate a community of support, both online and in real time. Jerks are not welcomed; e.g. individuals of ill repute, that talk trash, point fingers, break agreements, mistreat staff or service professionals of any type, disparage those less fortunate, or have any track record of haterade, bullying, power tripping, or general misanthropy. We work only with professionals of the highest character and ethical standards.

Accept the challenge:

  • Don’t die wondering. The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do. Rise to the occasion. Upgrading your mental acuity and developing your practice is one of the most exciting, frightening, humbling, and entirely worthwhile pursuits of your life and career. It is a benefit to everyone in our numerous communities that we each seek to fulfill this highest version of ourselves. As the saying goes, don’t die with your music still inside you.


Do you know anyone that may have allowed one too many bad relationships into their business or their life?

If you think they would benefit from reading this too, kindly pass it along!

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