The Power of a Personal Manifesto

Frank Lloyd Wright had a 10-point statement of values

Wright House
APNew Jersey house designed in the 1950s by architect Frank Lloyd Wright

I love personal manifestos.

I recently read Frank Lloyd Wright's Autobiography - a very thought-provoking work. In it, he includes a list of the "Fellowship Assets" that he outlined for the architecture apprentices he worked with at Taliesen, his summer home, studio, and school.

1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation

This list was interesting to me, because although it's quite short, it packs in a lot of big ideas and strongly held views. It really started me thinking -- to ask, "What does Wright mean by 'inorganic' or even 'nature'?" "What's an 'honest ego'?" I particularly loved #5 - the inclusion of humor on this list, and the tying of humor to a sense of proportion. I'd never thought of humor as an expression of a sense of proportion, but I think that's one reason that humor can be so helpful at difficult moments.

Writing a personal manifesto is a very interesting exercise; it really forces you to articulate your values. Have you ever written a manifesto for yourself? Was it a useful exercise? I wrote my manifesto, though I should probably update it.

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