Following a rule book, leads to a completed checklist. Following your heart, leads to a completed you.
If you live in one of the so-called “western democracies” or nations that have been built on those principles since World War II, your nation likely has a day to celebrate your “independence” or your “freedom.”
For those of us in The United States, that’s July 4 each year. That’s the day the Continental Congress ratified The Declaration of Independence. Largely penned by Thomas Jefferson, the document is a masterful expression of a free, rational human mind seeking political freedom in a world where that did not exist. Despite our modern critiques of Jefferson and others who signed that document for the massive hypocrisy of creating such a document while owning slaves, the document stands as a testament to the innate human desire to be free of despotic control in our lives.
The world has changed and many countries, if still incompletely and inconsistently, have adopted its principles in their political systems. However, that does not mean all despotic thinking has been eliminated. Most of us come into this world with a long list of “Cant’s” before we ever have the chance to try our “Cans.”
For many young parents, good parenting starts with the word no. True enough, there are many perils for the young child. Still, no is not always balanced with yes. Children grow up with a whole list of things they can’t do and little idea what they can do.
Moving onto school, a child is exposed to social norms. Classmates and teachers again have a whole host of “Don’ts” that are enforced by punishment or peer pressure. We’re taught to “fit in” rather than challenge the status quo.
In the adult world, we have work rules and government rules and rules, rules, rules. There are three main coping strategies. There are people who ignore all the rules – even the legitimate ones. There are people who follow all the rules. The situation is easy for these people. They either adhere to everything or reject everything. The rest of us are stuck in the middle.
Unless you were lucky enough to have an enlightened parent, teacher, or mentor somewhere along the way who opened your eyes or life experience woke you up, you likely reach your mid 20s with a massive book of “Can’ts” and “Don’ts” and no playbook for for “Cans.”
This is not generally viewed as a problem by political, religious, or economic establishment. Employees who are compliant, but creative enough to think outside the box once in a while are sought. In the religious and political spheres, compliance to “the party line” is generally seen as a positive.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is you weren’t born here to live by someone else’s rule book. You were born to be a unique person contributing your unique perspective to the forward movement of this civilization. Mindless compliance, while good for the business of the world, is not good for you.
You’re not the anarchist saying, “Burn it all down.” You’re also not the person asking the teacher if she can repeat her last sentence so you can get it down in your notes exactly as she said it.
You are YOU. You are here to break some normals and do amazing things. You can’t do that by following the rule book. Following that rule book leaves many, many people uninspired and plodding along to the next weekend or vacation. It leaves them watching mindless hours of conformity-driven entertainment instead of creating their own path through the world.
Power hack: If you agree this is you to some extent, what can you do to stop the rule book from ruling your life?
- Wake up – I know, I know. Everyone says that. What I mean is wake up to the fact that there IS a rule book. You’ve been thoroughly conditioned to follow it your entire life. The first step to freedom is to see the chains.
- Stop following the herd – You’ve probably heard the saying, “There’s safety in numbers.” That doesn’t apply to the herd of humans moving along in general compliance to the rule book. They don’t know where they’re going philosophically, spiritually, or financially. If you follow them, you won’t either.
- Challenge the status quo – The first two are passive steps. This is the first one that forces you to openly step out and step up and declare you’re seeking a different world that the one the rule book lead to. Don’t just challenge everything. That’s another kind of conformity. Get conscious about how HOW challenge the system and WHY you challenge the system.
- Find like-minded people – It may feel as though you’re the “only one” doing this. You look around and see many people in the rule book’s trance. I assure you there are others like you. Find them and work together to create a world and life beyond the rule book.
- Guiding principles – Be sure to support your search with an ethical/moral framework. I’m not suggesting replacing one rule book with another. I am suggesting that there are sensible universal principles such as do no harm or give everyone else the same freedom you seek, that provide a compass for your actions and prevent them from becoming merely self-serving.
- Lead – The best kind of learning and enlightenment is the kind that is passed along. Help others wake up and start the process. Help push the world in ways that free everyone from the rule book and create a “next-level” society that everyone can enjoy – one where every single human being on this planet is allowed and encouraged to pursue his or her greatness and contribute to the advancement of our civilization to the next level.
These bullet points don’t begin to explain the depth of the journey. Some of you are reading this and realizing you’re already on it. Some of you have known this was true for a long time, but the gravity of the system is strong.
Just as you learned to ride a bike with training wheels, the rule book provides some minimalist, collective grounding to build a civilization upon. However, we are ready to lose those training wheels. You are ready to lose those training wheels!
I think each and every one of you is amazing! What you see in the media every day – the conflict and chaos – is a view backwards into the world the rule book has created. A different future awaits. You thought you were waiting on your dreams. It turns out your dreams are waiting on you.