Saturday, July 26, 2014

I run because rules aren't my thing...

I've never been a fan of rules. This isn't to say I wantonly flaunt the law or break all the rules. We need rules to maintain some vague semblance of order. But, some rules don't make sense. Some rules are illogical. Some rules prevent one from succeeding.

There are many people who have achieved success by specifically NOT following the rules. In fact, it could be argued that succeeding in life pretty much requires breaking (or bending) the rules.

There's no way I could have launched my own business without breaking a few rules. I was working 40 hours a week and wasn't generating enough revenue with my fledgling business to leave the comforts of my office job.

If I followed the rules, I would not have done anything related to my business while shackled to my cube. But, there was no way I could get off the ground without bending (or breaking) this rule. There was a risk that I would get caught, reprimanded, and possibly fired for this behavior, but I saw no other option.

There was also an implicit rule that one should be in the office for 40 (or more) hours per week. As I started engaging more clients via my business, my ability to maintain this became challenging. So, I managed perception. Even if I wasn't physically present at my desk, I made it 'appear' that I was.

A half consumed cup of coffee was seemingly omnipresent. My laptop was always open and powered on. My chair was always placed at a slightly odd angle suggesting that I had perhaps just gotten up to go to the restroom, a meeting, or something else vaguely work related.

This smoke and mirrors routine served me well. I didn't necessarily feel great about breaking the rules, but I was getting my work done and no one was being hurt in the process. Granted, I was taking advantage of my employer, but certainly they had taken advantage of me on occasion as well.

As I was going through my transition from cube dweller to business owner, I was simultaneously training for a marathon. While there was some loose structure tied to my training and I was generally following a 'schedule', there were no hard and fast rules around how fast or how far I could go.

There was no rule that said I couldn't qualify for the Boston Marathon. There was no rule that said I couldn't break three hours for the marathon. There was no speed limit.

As a self identified 'maverick', this absence of rules resonated for me and in some respects reinforced my rule breaking (bending?) behavior in the office. Had I not been engaged in an activity largely devoid of rules, I'm not sure I would have felt confident I could bend or break the rules in my professional life.

Breaking rules is a risk. But, it's often said that with great risk comes great reward. In my experience, breaking the rules often rewards handsomely. So, I run because rules aren't my thing..

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