Yesterday I posted the Digital Dictionary I compiled after reading Erik Qualman’s Digital Leader. Today I want to give you the ten most important digital commandments that I took away from the book. (The brackets give the Kindle page location). Erik blogs at Socialnomics.

1. Thou shalt repeat every day: “Nothing is confidential.”
Digital footprints are the information we post about ourselves online, while digital shadows are what others upload about us. Collectively, these two items have changed the world forever, and as current or aspiring leaders it is necessary to adapt to this new reality….With the advent of radical and accessible technology, each one of us, for the first time in history, is creating an influential mark forever—we are all mini-digital celebrities and heroes to someone. The fact that what we do today will be recorded for eternity is new to most of us and it can be downright overwhelming (95-101).

Rather than becoming an expert on privacy policies, the best approach is to assume that everything you do digitally will be found out by the person you least want to find out. Taking that one step further, everything that you do offline will be digitally discoverable as well (880-881).

2. Thou shalt not multitask
A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment by 10 points. This decrease is the equivalent of the effects from not sleeping for 36 hours—and exhibits more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana. In a study of 1,000 of its employees, Basex, an information-technology research firm, found striking data showcasing inefficiency. It was determined that 2.1 hours per day is lost to interruptions. This figure indicates over 26 percent of the average workday is wasted due to multitasking and unwanted interruptions. Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains, “There’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t …what’s really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing”  (250-257).

Multitasking is junk food for the brain (2582). [My favorite quote in the book!]

3. Thou shalt be optimistic
Offline complaints will permeate your digital communication, opening a doorway to a seemingly infinite audience. To be a leader in the changing modern world, it is imperative to break this habit (635-636).

Aross all conversations there is a ratio of 1 to 6 in terms  of encouragement to criticism. So for every one “good job” there are six “why can’t you be more like your brother?” “he doesn’t listen,” “when you do that it gets on my nerves,” “you never,” “they don’t get it,” or “you can’t” type statements. For the next week pay close attention to who in your life is constantly harping. As a baseline, the average person complains 15-30 times per day (639-644).

The best way to improve other people’s lives around you is to ensure that you are happy—your positivity will influence others.  (662-663).

We don’t want a trail littered with complaints and negative comments…If you habitually complain you will either a) have your followers leave you since people like to follow individuals that inspire hope, or b) have a legion of chronic complainers. Neither of these resulting scenarios will benefit you and you will cease being an effective digital leader  (672-677).

4. Thou shalt distinguish between reputation and integrity
Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Integrity is keeping your word. Integrity is that internal compass and rudder that directs you to where you know you should go when everything around you is pulling you in a different direction. Some people think reputation is the same thing as  integrity, but they are different. Your reputation is the public perception of your integrity. Because it’s other people’s opinions of you, it may or may not be accurate. Others determine your reputation, but only you determine your integrity (Tony Dungy, 853-857).

Integrity does not come in degrees—low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you do not”  (Tony Dungy, 869-870).

The best way to handle this new digital age in regards to your reputation is to maintain your integrity and treat everyone you engage both online and offline as if he is the last person you might ever to speak to. People will, in return, influence your leadership capabilities and legacy  (1074-1076).

5. Thou shalt simplify your life
Almost everyone has too much to handle in this complex, digital age. The average person receives 41.5 texts per day and sends/receives 141 email messages per day. However, complexity is often caused by us! This situation is great, though, because it means complexity can be easily removed by us as well. If you simplify, you will be able to stand out from the crowd, influence others, and reduce stress  (1203-1206).

6. Thou shalt say “NO”
Embrace the powerful habit of saying or typing “no thanks.” Often our ultimate success is determined by what we decide NOT to do, as much as by what we decide to do. Get in the practice of initially saying no. If an opportunity does not inspire an immediate “I have to do this!” reaction, it will not be missed  (1210-1212)

By saying yes to everyone, you say no to everyone….Trying to help everyone often results in helping no one. We get more and more requests digitally since it’s much easier to ask people for a favor via the safety of a keyboard than looking them eye-to-eye. Hence, the ability to say no, strongly and politely, becomes more and more important in the future. By all means, you should help people; that is really why we are all on this planet. However, we suggest going “long and deep” rather than “fast and vast.” (1253-1288).

Try answering all digital items in two sentences or less (1419).

7. Thou shalt be personal
Personal is powerful. For many of us, the thought of having others know more about our passions and personal lives can be daunting, especially in the digital, online realm. If you become comfortable with this form of sharing, however, it can be powerful for anything you are trying to accomplish…Remember that personal isn’t about revealing that you have a tattoo on your left shoulder, it’s about letting people know about the passions and principles in your life that you stand by. When they know this information about you, personal becomes powerful (1988-1990).

8. Thou shalt have a technology Sabbath
Starting now, pick one day during the week when you will completely unplug from technology. That’s right, no email, mobile phone, texting, tweets, etc. If this seems impossible, then you need this even more! If you can’t go cold turkey, even for a day per week, start slow by selecting one day per month (2736-2738).

9. Thou shalt have a digital mentor
Determine a leader you admire. Spend at least 20 minutes a day watching his or her activity. Pay attention to: Who is he conversing with? What topics does she post and in what tone? Why does he post? When does she post? Where does he post and what tools or sites does he use? The best digital mentor is generally someone that is in your industry or shares similar interests—someone that you find intriguing. Learn from these mentors and practice what they are doing (3231-3240).

10. Thou shalt share information
With the digital revolution, you actually gain more influence as a leader when you share information. Remember that influence has surpassed information in terms of importance because information is cheap and easily accessible (3601-3603).

If you were to take only one thing from this chapter it is simply this: you will attract more followers digitally in two days than you will in two months if you show interest in them versus trying to get them interested in you (3814-3818).

Digital Leader by Erik Qualman.