Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rules Are Meant to Break

Ouch! That sounds dangerous.  That is not allowed.  I mean, you have been taught to mind the rules, to color within the lines.  

I know some of you who enjoy crossing your t’s and dotting your lowercase j’s are already breaking in to a cold sweat right now.

        I’m even starting a new tab in my blog, just to break the composition rules I learned in high school 😃

Seriously, I want to discuss with you how I think about rules.  I want to show you a bigger perspective of how I see rules.  

Rules are meant to break

I see a difference between a rule and a principle.  A rule is a regulation that has been defined by people, from past experience.  A principle is a fundamental truth that gives basis for a belief in conduct in life.  So, I am not advocating against breaking principles that guide our life. Principles are beliefs in God, in how we treat people, how we treat ourselves and conduct ourselves.  

I am landing more on challenging the status quo.  I am asking that you don’t be confined to what the set directions have always been.  

This philosophy comes from my personality naturally.  I have always been a “what if” person, a “why not” person.  When I see a goal I want to reach or a dream I have that I am passionate about, and I am told by people that we are limited to the rules, my natural response is to ask “but what if?”, or “why can’t we?”  For some reason, I get pleasure out of thinking how I can find a work-around, so that I can reach beyond what has been done before and chart a new path.  I see a particular rule as a barrier that others could not get over, so they stopped there.  I see it as my job to get over the barrier, to reach higher and farther.

This reminds me of the man who re-invented the technique for the high jump in the Olympics.  Dick Fosbury in 1968 brought a very different, unconventional technique to the sport.  He jumped backwards and arched his back in a way that he could clear the bar higher than others.  It became so successful, they named the technique the Fosbury Flop.  It is still the new “rule” of high jumping practiced to this day.

When I studied music, I mainly studied classical music.  I loved classical music, and studied the great composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy and Bach.  This helped me form a construct of how music worked, how music was built through chords, time signatures, and key signatures.  But I remember being introduced to jazz music in high school.  I remember hearing one “rule-breaking" teacher say to me…

You learn all of the rules in music so that you can break them

What? Learn all of the rules so you can break them? What did that mean? Does that mean I can play notes that are outside the key of the song? Does that mean I can use a different scale in a passage? Wow - that means I can create new voicings, new harmonies.  That means I don’t have to compare my musical arrangement with someone else’s.  I can not just study composers, I can BE a composer.

Let’s re-visit rules.  Rules are not bad.  They are very good.  They were created by someone in the past who learned something and then did us the favor of drawing a road map for the rest of us to follow.  That is helpful - very helpful.  Thank goodness for people who learned something and took the time to help the rest of us.  But most of us “worship” the rules.  We bind ourselves to the rules, like we are hanging on to them for dear life! In order to adhere to the defined rules, we stop reaching for greater effectiveness.  A win for us becomes abiding by the rules, not having greater impact.

Let’s get practical in how breaking the rules will help us:


At the Movies sets and designs are off the charts this year at Stuart Campus!
Budgets are meant to bust.  At work, if you are doing a project and given a budget, don’t just figure out how you can stay under budget; think of how you can make the project the best you ever have! Think competition - “our project will be the best one of all!” If your focus is to make your work high quality, highly creative, highly effective, and you happen to go over budget, guess what? They will likely raise your budget!  You might think you will be punished, but the CEO is actually looking for rule-breakers, for out-of-the-box thinkers.  They won’t tell you that, but that is how they think! Do such a great job that they want to give you more resources.

I took a chance inviting Congressman Mast to church to help celebrate our country - was so delighted he came!

In most businesses, there are defined rules for how things are done.  The bigger an organization gets, the more institutionalized it becomes.  The natural life cycle is that ideas become fewer, creative thinking diminishes, and automation ensues.  What is desperately needed (but rarely is stated publicly) is experimentation.  When you and your team block out thinking time to ask good questions like “what if?” or “why not?”, fresh creativity begins to flow.  When the team takes time to ask themselves “how do we take this to another level?”, they begin priming the pump of their creative minds.  It’s risky, it’s messy, it’s unmanagable - it’s genius!   Be willing to try just one of the great ideas that come out of these sessions.  Be willing to be criticized by the rule-followers.  Test your idea, give it a try.  Good things always come from trying - you will learn something, and it may just get you out of a rut.

Work Flow
For our men's event, we thought creatively how we could use our beautiful property at Christ Fellowship - guys loved it!
Do you have your staff meeting in the same office room on the same day? Are your meetings with your people predictable? When is the last time you had an outside speaker come invest in your team? Is everyone in the office doing the same work over and over? I would challenge you to assess your work environment with your team around you.  While you may be responsible for getting the work done, maybe there is a way you can spice up HOW it is done and WHERE it is done.  If you are a rule follower and may have difficulty getting outside the rigidness of your current state, you need to invite one or two people in to your office and ask them honest questions. 
What could make this more fun?
What could make this fresh for our people?
What do we need to get a spark in to our work flow?
What will get us thinking differently than we currently think?

Don’t be afraid of the responses.  And don’t think you have to react or change to every thought.  Something good will come from these conversations.  It will test the rules to see if they are guiding life principles, or just a rule that has been instituted in the office and needs to be updated.

The big idea here is to bust through convention, to bend or break rules that may look important, but actually may just be a limit to you and your team reaching a greater level of joy and effectiveness

Rules are meant to break