💎 My personal values

30 Oct 2019 in values, work, learning, effective_altruism,

There are certain things I value, that are non-negotiable for me. Whether in my next job, next adventure or just life in general, these are guiding and instructive.


I will never stop learning. I absolutely love learning new things, acquiring new skills and getting better at the skills I already have. This also means that I will often opt for the harder path, the road less traveled, because in the end it is through hard things that you learn the most. When I’m constantly on the verge of drowning I learn the most (although also this needs to sometimes be alternated with periods of comfort in order to facilitate reflection). This value I believe is what has brought me far, and will bring me far in the future. It is only when I’m learning, when I push myself that I feel truly fulfilled.

How I learn is a topic for a later post.

The value of learning and growth also leads to my current professional ambition, which is to belong to the the top 1% product leaders in the world.


As hinted at by the fact that my moral values align with the Buddhist tradition, I believe that a life examined constitutes to a life well lived. For me this takes two forms. One in the form of reflection, which is a core activity in order to facilitate my learning. And the other in the form of meditation, which is about examining and training my mind. Focus, habit, egolessness.

The outcomes of meditation for me are trifold.

  1. First it helps me with focus, through meditation I train my mind to focus.
  2. Secondly I train my mind to get out of it’s destructive habit pattern of always reacting to situations with either craving or aversion. By stopping to react, I experience that all things pass, and therefore that I might as well be happy with the current state.
  3. Thirdly I aim to achieve a certain level of egolessness. Similar to removing the habit pattern, as everything passes, so do I. Me and my ego are simply constructs. I can entertain this insight on an intellectual level, but have yet to experience it.

The main form the self-examination takes is meditation (and meditative reflection), but I’m not opposed or averse other ways to achieve self-examination.


Morality is important to me because I fundamentally think that being good, to others and in general, is worth pursuing. Living morally makes for better living. The current moral precepts that I strive to observe are based on the Buddhist tradition.

  1. I do not lie. Will tell the truth and strive to make that truth complete. Especially in a professional context this leads to transparency, which I think is a vital element towards enabling trust within teams and organizations.
  2. I do not harm others nor myself. Whether verbally, physically or mentally I don’t take actions that harm people (to the best of my knowledge). This also means that with the products I create I will always make the effort to make sure that they do not harm others. Whether that is directly through the invasion of privacy, or secondary/tertiary through creating externalities.
  3. I do not kill people. This should be self-evident, but who knows what changes? I intentionally don’t include animals in this, although it’s slightly contrived, because in the end what are people more than just an arrogant type of animal? But in the end I don’t currently think it’s completely immoral to eat a piece of meat, or to kill a mosquito (although also that might change).
  4. I do not steal.

Effective altruism

The first three values are very much about ‘how to live your life’ on a meta level. This one is more about what I want to do with my life. Having always wanted to do good (see value #1) I discovered the effective altruism movement. “Effective altruism is about answering one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most?”

It’s not just about doing good (i.e. altruism) but about making sure that we’re the most effective. The idea is to use evidence and careful analysis to find the best causes to work on. To determine what to work on, generally 4 criteria are considered: scale, neglectedness, solvability and personal fit.

For me currently what seems more prescient is climate change. Although it’s obviously hardly neglected, it is such a huge risk. Well not even a risk anymore, it’s already a problem. The risk that we fuck up even more completely than we’re already doing, and heat up the earth 5*C or more would have such dire consequences that I do think this is worth my time, energy and money.