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Certified Health Coach, Award Winning Author, Motivational Muse

Bending the Rules When It Matters

If I followed all the rules that people attempted to set for me, I think my life would be different. It may not be better or worse, just different. Rules can create structure and direction, but for a creative person they can also confine the mind. It’s about striking a healthy balance and deciding when to follow them, bend them or make new ones.

The late Katherine Hepburn said, “If you follow the rules you miss all the fun.”  I’ll drink to that! Looking back at my life, my regrets are not what I did, but what I didn’t do. And much of what I didn’t do was because I adhered to rules of tradition and acquiescing.

Sometimes it takes a strong person to challenge the rules and create new ones. Some rules may have worked at a certain time in history, but now seem outdated. I think about women in history who’ve challenges outdated rules, often sacrificing their own well-being in the process.

When I was twelve, I challenged the rules at my elementary school. Sixth grade girls were expected to wear white lace anklet socks with their conservatively low-heeled white shoes and white dresses at graduation. Well, I would have none of that! I staged a mini-protest, aided by my mother, to demand the rules be changed. No young lady of my age  would wear childish white lace anklets to graduation. I won the argument and freed my fellow female classmates to embrace stockings (and mini skirts to boot!). And that smug, self-satisfied rule-bender wearing a short white lace dress and stockings in the front row of the sixth grade graduation photo was Yours Truly.

There are a few rules to bending the rules:

  1. If you plan to change something, come prepared with a new plan. Don’t demand for change without offering a better solution to begin anew.
  2. Focus on why change will matter versus why the rules don’t  work. People will be more responsive hearing about what can be versus what can’t.
  3. Instead of criticizing, stay constructive.
  4. If you meet with resistance, remain patient. Many people resist change because it makes them uncomfortable. Start by making people feel more comfortable with you before you start to change their rules (read: the way it’s been done).
  5. Breaking the rules is not bending them. You are still following the rules when you are bending them. Breaking them can have greater consequences.
  6. Stay polite and calm. It will make the change feel better to those who resist.
  7. Think things through before you facilitate change. It is easier to move forward rather than going back.
  8. Gather a tribe of believers to help you. Change starts with one person; it spreads with the help of many.
  9. Focus on your goal but never forget where you started. Never lose your “why.”
  10. When you succeed, acknowledge those who supported you.

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