Kids love rules. Play a game with any five-year-old, and they’ll ignore the actual rules of the game but create their own. Then they heap rules on top of those rules—making it up as they go along. Then if the rules don’t work in their favor, they change the rules.
This is not such a bad idea. . .
Adults love rules. We actively look for them, and use them like a handrail to find our way around. We want to know where we stand. We seek structure to our floppy lives, so we ask, “What are the rules around here?” What we find are actually just strong suggestions of what you can and cannot do to fit within polite society. These are not really rules, but society’s habits, handed down and unconsciously agreed upon so everyone can play nice and avoid mayhem. When we do splurge and break the rules, we feel as though we’ve gotten away with something—when in actuality we have only taken what freedom was ours to begin with. Most rules are an invisible fence; they exist because we believe they do.
The problem with the rules is that they’re generally unisex and one-rule-fits-all. They promote conventional, business-as-usual thinking and don’t allow for the concepts of individuality or play. Rules like “Stay within the lines,” “Don’t rock the boat,” and even “Be nice” seem innocuous enough but are creatively stifling.
Even in the commercial practices of architecture, film, theater, and business, there are rules about how things are done. Only when we see those rules beautifully ignored do we come to a new, higher realization of what is possible.
The rules are fine for some, and, like the boundaries of a playing field, they serve a purpose. The problem starts when they begin to fence in your spirit. While it’s not necessary to totally disregard the rules, it is critical to have your own set to live by. Rules that not only allow you to call BS on the existing standards, but also give you the elbow room and flexibility to lead a profitable, creative, and meaningful existence.
Make your own rules, make your destiny.