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The Right Choice: Applying Life’s Priorities and Ethics to Engineering

William A. (Bill) Brant, J.D., P.E.

Fundamental to who you are is how you act. Fundamental to how you act is how you think. Fundamental to what you think and act is the first thing you do, because everything else must follow. Fundamental to your “good life” are your Life’s Priorities and how you carry them out. The premise of this course is if you become a better, complete person, you will become a better, ethical engineer.

I will be your coach or guide though this course. Our course will center around Socrates’ famous quote, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Your life will be examined by you before the end of this course, so it cannot be said your unexamined life is not worth living.

We start by asking ourselves what is our purpose and what are our Life’s Priorities? Before we answer these questions some background preparation needs to be done. We review Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. Maslow researched and studied human basic needs, but also looked beyond those basic needs to self-actualizers and peak-experiencers. It is the self-actualization and peak-experiences that I want to guide you toward.

Philosophically, we define and study the “good” and the “good life.” We study what the philosophers defined in these areas and the role of ethics. Actually, ethics will be sprinkled throughout the course.

I must confess the first part of this course was completed some time ago and I knew I wanted to end the course taking you through your Life’s Priorities. However, I had a difficult time going from the “good life” to your Life’s Priorities, despite the fact I had given several lectures doing just that.

While in a bookstore, I stumbled across Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I had had his book for over twenty years, but had not really read it. I read it in depth and discovered he was on to something. How can you go from a “good life” philosophically to Life’s Priorities if you are stuck in worry? Carnegie’s book was written in the 1940s and was mostly anecdotal, basically interviews with people, some famous, who talked about their worry and how they dealt with worry.

I had research for previous PDHonline.org courses, that showed ethics (high values) reduced stress and it was my belief that ethics would reduce worry as well.

Surprisingly, just as Dale Carnegie discovered, there appears to be a lack of information on worry. There is a large amount of information on anxiety, some of which I share with you as part of this course. However, I was really looking for worry (probably because I worry some myself but do not feel I fall into the different anxiety classifications).

I was searching for a more scientific approach rather than just theories; and, I wanted something practical that I could share with you (and even take myself). Dr. Edward Hallowell’s book on Worry was a key source. Moreover, Dr. Hallowell consented to allow me to reproduce for you his Worry Self-Assessment Quiz, that he developed over years of research and clinical practice, to evaluated your worry. I believe you will find it enlightening when you take it.

Honestly, I probably spent too much time in this course on worry. However, the statistics of how many people are affected by worry are daunting. As a result, I probably went a tad overboard with my worry study with you before getting back to my goal to get over worry and on to your Life’s Priorities.

I believe we all can or need to control worry and I have tried to attack worry. As a part of worry, we cover failure. Statistics show we all fail at something some time in our lives and it is important how we react to that failure; and, if we can build upon failure to make us better.

The key goal of this course is for you to develop your own “good life,” “best life,” and set out your “Life’s Priorities.” By doing this, you will examine your life. You will develop a plan, identify and rank your Life’s Priorities and values, and build you own Personal Mission Statement.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.