I dedicate this blog to a friend of mine we will call him "Rocky"
Growing up, (myself included) many of us were taught to follow the rules, toe the line, and stay within the bounds of acceptable behavior. We learned to conform, to fit in, to stay in your lane and to avoid rocking the boat. Today, that kind of thinking can lead to stagnation, missed opportunities, and in some cases downright depression. To really succeed in life, we need to break rules, challenge authority, and be creative.
Before you can successfully "break the rules", make damn sure you understand them. This means taking the time to fully comprehend why a certain rule or regulation exists, what it is designed to accomplish, who the audience is... and what the potential consequences are for breaking it. Armed with actionable intelligence, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not to break the rule and how to do so in a way that minimizes your risk.
After understanding, fully comprehending the "rule" (and WHY it was originally installed) then and only then should you evaluate whether to "bend" or "break" it. Some other forms of this process may actually be deciding to make yourself the "martyr" of a process or rule that is ineffective. In all cases remember, as an agent of change myself... this process is rarely pain free. You have been warned -
For the record: I am not an attorney, and this in no way is legal advice!
If you are still reading, well, no risk, no reward, eh? I wish someone would have mentored me or told me this when I was younger. Maybe I wasn't ready until I was older, or "matured", but here we are. If you ever feel undervalued, that you are not in the right position, that you have more to give - you are probably right. If you are told to "stay in your lane" (my personal favorite), "that is not your problem", or "follow the chain of command" - chances are you are already starting this process. Have some faith in yourself, listen to your inner voice - you have value. Your boss?? They are not going to look back at you in the mirror each morning, nor are they going to read "I wish I would have worked more" on your gravestone.
Breaking the rules requires a certain amount of confidence and courage. You're not going to get very far if you're constantly second-guessing yourself or deferring to others. Instead, you need to be willing to challenge authority, speak up, and assert your own ideas and opinions. You don't have to be confrontational, but you do need to be assertive and express yourself clearly, confidently and most importantly respectfully.
To break the rules effectively, you need to be creative. This means looking for new and innovative ways to do things, approaching problems from different angles, and thinking outside the box. Creativity allows you to see things differently and come up with solutions that others might miss. So don't be afraid to experiment, try new things, and take risks. The more you do it, the more comfortable you'll become, and the more successful you'll be.
Sometimes, breaking the rules can be lonely and isolating. It can make you feel like an outsider or a rebel, even if you're doing it for valid reasons. (Just ask Bill Gates or the Woz.) That's why it's important to build a support network of like-minded individuals who share your ideals and ethics. A network that will elevate you and that can provide both emotional and practical support. Reach out to mentors, colleagues, and friends who understand your goals and has the ability and capacity to help you achieve them.
Change comes with its own sets of risks and consequences. You need to be mentally prepared for them and willing to accept them if they come. This means understanding what the potential repercussions are, both personally and professionally, and being willing to face them head-on. But if you believe in what you're doing, if you're passionate and committed to your vision, then the rewards can outweigh the risks.
Keep in mind that doing nothing is still a choice – there are pros and cons to that as well, and that is also all on you. You are the only one that can and will have to live with that choice.
Running off the rails or looking at “the man” squarely in the face and challenging authority or the status quo can be scary, but it's also essential for personal and professional, and yes, even legislative growth. Following these tips, you can learn to break rules effectively and with purpose, rather than simply rebelling for the sake of it. So go forth, be creative, challenge authority, and make your mark on the world.
Doing nothing – well that will keep things the way that they have always been.