Why Wasn’t I Consulted
In elementary school, we were not allowed to chew gum in the classroom.
It created inconveniences for the maintenance staff.
The logic, according to the teacher who first explained it to me, was that some students would stick their gum under the desk instead of disposing of it properly. Do a Google search for “Why can’t we chew gum in class?” and you’ll see that this same logic is still prevalent among many schools today.
Gum chewing isn’t inherently bad. It just annoys the cleaning crew. So in order to make life more convenient for them, a rule was created forbidding students from chewing gum. The students were not consulted. Although students are the ones who follow the rule, their concerns played no part in the establishment of it.
“I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this”
Like the “no gum chewing rule”, many of the rules we choose to play by were created for reasons that have nothing to do with our own interests. Some of the rules were simply made up just to make life easier for someone else, whether it was perceived to be a benefit to us or not.
That doesn’t mean we need to go around protesting every single rule, but it does mean we should stop and think about whether or not we’re playing by rules that actually benefit us.
One of the most self-stultifying ideas we can believe is the notion that things must be the way they are for a good reason. This belief keeps us from questioning routines, challenging conventions, and rethinking the rules.
Sometimes things are the way they are simply because someone gave up on trying to come up with a better idea because they lacked the energy or incentive to do so.
Whose rules are you playing by and what kind of reward are you expecting?
Many of us pursue success by trying to follow society’s rules as best as we can. We’re conditioned to think that if we play by the rules we’re taught, then society will reward us for our faithfulness in the end.
“If I invest my money this way, I’ll be financially free.”
“If I major in this subject, I’ll get a good job.”
“If I put my time in, do everything right, and am sufficiently loyal to the system, then my company, my church, my school, my government, or somebody is going to make sure I’m properly taken care of.”
Once we realize, however, that many of those rules are arbitrary, fallible, and completely neutral to our success, we can start taking responsibility for creating our own rules; rules that cater to OUR interests, OUR goals, and OUR concerns.
Don’t be a law-breaker. Be a rule-maker.
We can still respect the rules of others, but we no longer have to make the mistake of assuming that the rules created by others are capable of functioning as a comprehensive plan for our own success.
Adhering to society’s rules can keep us out of trouble, but it can’t guarantee us success. Obedience never has been nor ever will be a substitute for creativity.
Success is the result of taking responsibility for creating what we want. It’s not a reward for playing by someone else’s rules.
Let’s not waste any time waiting around for someone to give us a sticker for doing all the right things.
We have the permission and the power to make things happen for ourselves.
Make your own rules. Create your own prizes.