Thursday, January 5, 2012

i-TFTD #350: Rules About Rules

#350-1. Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry. To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery.
-George Polya, mathematician (1887-1985)

#350-2. Sure, we need rules, but remember that every rule removes a choice, and choice is the fuel for learning.
-@mwbuckingham (Marcus Buckingham, strengths guru on Twitter)

#350-3. Rules without relationship equals rebellion.
-attributed to many authors but mostly to Andy Stanley, pastor (1958-) and Joslin McDowell, Christian evangelist and writer (1939-)

Rules such as those codified in law are the foundation of civilization and society but it is more interesting to think about some other types of rules: assumed rules, outdated rules whose intent has become irrelevant and self-imposed rules. When our behavior is guided by unexamined rules, we find it difficult to adopt innovation and change. When we impose rules on others without building a platform of relationship and trust, we encounter resistance. Explaining the objective behind setting a rule is a necessary first step but logic alone does not suffice to convince others.

Breaking rules is a natural and essential part of growing up, of innovating, of bringing out the best of human potential. Ignorance about rules can occasionally help in generating original ideas but it is more often used as an excuse—and rarely accepted. Consistently successful rule-breakers first endeavor to know and understand rules before deciding which ones to break in which situation. When done well, this leads to new, better rules that achieve common good. Some have formulated this as a rule: Know the rules before breaking them!

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