Reflecting on the Rules for the Conduct of Life

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Reflecting on the Reverend Canon David Parrott's revised publication of the legendary book, the Rules for the Conduct of Life, there are lots of lessons we can learn for navigating current challenges with human decency and commercial integrity.

Last year, the Reverend Canon David Parrott, the Guild Vicar at St. Lawrence Jewry and Chaplain to the City of London Corporation, formally retired. One of his many legacies after 12 years of service (which followed 25 years in Chelmsford Diocese), was his update of the historic book, the Rules for the Conduct of Life into contemporary language. The original ‘Rules’ is traditionally given to all new Freemen of the City of London on their admission by the Chamberlain, and it is a text that I frequently reflect upon, both personally and professionally.

Timeless values in a modern city

The original text was first published in 1740, derived from a document by a former Lord Mayor, Sir John Barnard, as a set of standards for Freemen of The City of London. Reverend Parrott commented on the release of his revised edition, that: "Despite its age, it is as relevant today as any book on leadership and business management."

The first few weeks of 2023 have been a time to reflect upon the year ahead and consider how one wants to approach it professionally and personally. I have found the Rules for the Conduct of Life to be a source of sage advice and guidance. In Parrott's revised version, 36 short rules across 10 chapters have been reworked for the context of contemporary corporate governance, sustainability and social impact. It offers helpful and thought-provoking insights that I think we can all benefit from.

Humanity and economy

It begins with 'Being independent together', which is perhaps a most poignant place to start as we navigate international relationships and a post-Brexit world from a position of global community as well as autonomy. Meanwhile, at home with economic and cost of living challenges, we have the professional, ethical and human responsibility of both The City to the nation and individuals to help the economy, as well as one another, in their experience of collective obstacles.

In a world where there’s so much that remains in flux, eternal values, by definition, don’t change over time, and I expect to reflect on the Rules further over the coming months in order to seek wisdom in navigating the path ahead.

If you don’t have a copy of the original Rules because you’re not a Freeman of the City, you could become a Freeman. Or, if you would like a copy of the updated version, you can find it at the St. Lawrence Jewry office.