Break some rules.
From the time you were a small child, you were taught to follow the rules. You got that from adults whose lives were made easier, if you didn’t buck their system. They had learned it from adults who felt the same way and so and so on as far back as you can go.
Later, you went to school, became a citizen and an employee. In each instance, there was an authority that really preferred that you just play along. Lists and lists of rules were in place to ensure that you stayed in line and punishments were instituted in case you decided not to.
Have you ever wondered for a moment why other people get to set the rules for your life and you are just supposed to go along? Maybe you haven’t even gone there? Maybe you’ve just gone along because it’s easier.
Some rules are smart. They benefit you, keep you safe, make life more fair, or even make civilized society possible. Many rules, though, have little purpose but to impose someone else’s guide-rails on your life.
Some times rules fit into both categories depending on the situation. For example, during hours of busy traffic, it’s smart to use a crosswalk. It keeps drivers and pedestrians safer. However, does it make sense to walk half a block to a crosswalk at two in the morning just because you’re “supposed” to use the crosswalk?
Devout rule-followers would argue yes. Those are the moments when you get to decide whether you’re just going to conform for the sake of conformity or break a few rules. This question doesn’t end with simple rules like crosswalks. It can go right up to life’s biggest questions. Are you just going to follow the rules or are you going to question, break, or transcend them?
Power hack: All the greats consciously broke rules or transcended them. They refused to let the rules of their societies limit their thinking or their destinies. They realized as Einstein said, “The problems in the world are not solved by the level of thinking that created them.” That goes for your life too.
Rules, by definition, are the protectors of the status quo. They are the bulwark against change. A rule never innovated or changed society or a life. If you’re going to let rules, well, rule your life, you’ll likely never achieve anything big.
I’m not advocating anarchy or chaos here. You don’t have to go against everything to just to be against it. You do have to question rules and whether or not following them really serves you, the situation, or society more than what you can bring to the table by consciously ignoring them.
In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey concept, the hero leaves the bounds of his or her society (the rules and dictates) and find a new paradigm. The hero risks the derision of “the tribe.” If the hero is successful, he or she brings back a boon that benefits and ultimately moves the hero and the tribe forward.
So, break some rules. Lightning won’t strike you down. You will, however, gain back a small measure of the autonomy you were all born with.
I’ll leave you today with this old Apple commercial many of you will remember. It captures this idea beautifully.