Self-Disciplines of Buckminster Fuller

This is an attempt at constructing a simple list of Buckminster Fuller's values for myself by synthesizing the chapter, "Self-Disciplines of Buckminster Fuller" out of his book titled, "Critical Path". This book had a profound impact on how I view myself, my life and my work.

Self-Disciplines (synthesized)

  1. Work always and only for all of humanity to be optimally effective.
  2. Make decisions and create products only from your own experientially gained information instead of trying to accomodate everyone else's opinions.
  3. Create only things that provide human advantage without putting the cost on other humans.
  4. Try to solve the unfavourable conditions of humanity through new inventions and products. Make them so effective that they are immediately adopted by humans, thereby freeing them from previously unfavourable circumstances.
  5. Always reduce your inventions to physical working models. Never talk about the inventions until they are physically proven - or disproven.
  6. Never try to persuade humanity to alter its customs or viewpoints. Your outputs should reform the environment and not the humans.
  7. Assume that nature has a built-in prioritization process to support new inventions that advantage humanity.
  8. Focus on creating things that provide valid human advantage irrelevant of how far into the future they may be used. In the event of an evolutionary crisis, your creation will be available and ready.
  9. Learn the most from your mistakes.
  10. Decrease time wasted in worried procrastination and increase time invested in the discovery of improving human life through new technology.
  11. Find way to document your development in a public setting.
  12. Attempt to comprehend the underlying principles that guide our Universe and apply these principles in your own projects.
  13. Educate yourself comprehensively in all of the required disciplines of your work.
  14. Operate only on a do-it-yourself basis.
  15. Design as if your users were born in an environment without existing conditioned reflexes that might blind them to the potential of new powerful technology or products.


Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist.

After Fuller had lost all of his money, his reputation and his first daughter who died on her fourth birthday - he sought to use himself as a "scientific guinea pig" in a life long experiment designed to discover as he describes:

"What – if anything – a healthy young male human of average size, experience and capability with an economically dependent wife and newborn child, starting without capital or any kind of wealth, cash savings, account monies, credit or university degree could effectively do that could not be done by great nations or great private enterprise to lastingly improve the physical protection and support of all human lives, at the same time removing undesirable restraints and improving individual initiatives of any and all humans aboard our planet Earth."

This was not an altruistic decision. He arrived at this conviction pragmatically through a form of self documentation he called the Dymaxion Chronofile. A project in which he would document what was happening in his life every 15 mins in a scrapbook that eventually became the most documented human life in history.

Through this process of continual self reflection he found that he was far more effective in his work when:

  1. The focus of a project was to realistically protect, nurture and accomodate for human lives well into the future of humanity.
  2. The entire focus of a project was on serving the well being of others and not himself.
  3. The project aspired to serve the advantage of a large number of human beings. He found the larger this number was, the more effective he would become in his work.

Depression and epiphany

Fuller recalled 1927 as a pivotal year in his life. His daughter Alexandra had died in 1922 of complications from polio and spinal meningitis just before her fourth birthday. Fuller dwelled on his daughter's death, suspecting that it was connected with Fullers' damp and drafty living conditions. In 1927, Fuller also lost his job as President of Stockade. His famiy had no savings, and the birth of their second daughter in 1927 added to the financial challenges. During the autumn of 1927, Fuller contemplated suicide by drowing in Lake Michigan, so that his family could benefit from a life insurance payment. [1]

Fuller said that he had experienced a profound incident which would provide direction and purpose for his life. He felt as though he was suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light. A voice spoke directly to Fuller, and declared: [1]

"From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others." [1]

1. Wikipedia contributors. (2019, February 24). Buckminster Fuller. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:13, March 4, 2019, from
2. As stated above all other writing is my own simplification of the contents from chapter, "Self-Disciplines of Buckminster Fuler" out of the book, Critical Path by Buckminster Fuller.