I have really been looking forward to writing this post.  Interestingly this topic has come up in a few different areas of my life.  The first instance was when I was re-reading “42 Rules of Product Management: Learn the Rules of Product Management from Leading Experts from Around the World” by Brian Lawley and Greg Cohen.  Their number one rule was “Rules Are Meant to Be Broken.”  They even supplemented their first example with a great quote by the Dalai Lama: “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”

In Lawley and Cohen’s book they start with an example of how Henry Ford was able to create the first affordable automobile.  Ford faced a number of setbacks and his first company, Detroit Automobile Company, failed.  Yet you would be hard pressed to say he wasn’t a success if you look around the United States.  There are cars in nearly every driveway.  The only way for that to happen would be for Ford to make cars affordable enough.

Breaking certain rules can bring you benefits. While I personally ascribe to the rule of “Adopt then Adapt,” there is still value at some point in adapting the rules to get the most effective outcome. I would also caution that breaking certain rules can be a nightmare.  Lewis Upton once said, “I’m a free soul, not a soul who will be contained by rules that were made by people who want to control others.”  The intention you hard for which you are breaking the rule is as important as the impact of breaking it.

There does come a time when it does become necessary to break or bend a rule.  If others are trying to control you.  If you are in a situation that makes you feel stuck.  Or, if you just don’t fundamentally agree with the rule.  Let’s assume you decide you will break certain rules.  Here are a few benefits:

The “Work 9 to 5” Rule

Many individuals go into business for themselves just so they can stop being bound by this rule.  Even those that stay in traditional work arrangements are now looking for flexibility in the hours they are working.  If you are brave enough to break this rule you can end up finding more time for yourself and in some cases when you honor your energy – you are even more efficient.  Many people are starting to realize the benefits of setting their own hours due to the benefits of technology. 

Would your life improve if you broke this rule?

The “Always Meet Your Goals and Exceed Expectations” Rule

So many of us get into the perfectionist trap.  We think that since we originally accepted a goal, we must complete the goal no matter what.  Or we worry that we might lose a job or miss out on something if we don’t only meet, but don’t exceed, expectations. The simple fact is that you can change your mind along the way.  If you let some dead fish projects go, you can have more time and energy and excitement to make some real progress on a project or goal that has more significance to you.  Sometimes you just have to let stuff go.

What do you need to let go of to make room for something new?

The “What Others Think Matters” Rule

It is so easy to let what others think about us matter.  Letting go of the fear of people judging you can be very freeing.  Really, what others think of you isn’t any of your business.  Some of the things that kept you down in the past and prevented you from reaching your true potential can be replaced with a new perspective and energy for life. 

Who has an opinion that you need to ignore? 

The “Failure is Bad” Rule

Mistakes do not have to be a bad thing.  In fact, very often mistakes can be reframed as lessons learned.  If you are able to learn something that can help you in the future, then it wasn’t really a failure.  You can get tons of benefits from making mistakes.  It is never fun to admit you are wrong, but if you can learn lessons from those mistakes, the benefits can outweigh the downside.

What failures have you experienced recently that might actually be lessons in disguise?

The “Your Parents Are Always Right” Rule

When you realize that your parents lived in another era and rules meant something different than they do now, you can justify breaking the “parents are always right” rule.  The major benefit of breaking this rule is you can free yourself to make your own choices and plot your own journey.

What rule of your parents do you need to let go so you can move forward?

While there are benefits from breaking some of society’s outdated rules, beware of breaking rules that could get your in legal trouble or that were put in place to help protect you from yourself. Also consider there is nuance in rules.  Not working 9 to 5 doesn’t mean you stop working hard to reach your goals.  Not always trying to exceed expectations or reach all goals doesn’t mean that you abandon having any goals. 

What rules exist in your life right now that are holding you back?

And, as always, if you need more support in creating positive habits in work or in life reach out to me or one of the many other amazing coaches on coach.me to get support.


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