The Imaginary Rules that Bind You

by | Oct 16, 2012 | Building Courage | 23 comments

A fter a long flight over the Atlantic, the voice over the intercom said we’d started our final descent.  Then came the standard instructions to prepare for landing.

Afterwards, the stewardess came to me and asked, “You slept through dinner.  Would you like me to bring it to you now so you can eat it before landing?”

I looked at her, a bit stupefied.  Was this a trick question?  Hadn’t she just told everyone to secure their trays for landing?

I nodded.  She pulled out my tray, covered it with a small tablecloth, and quickly brought me a surprisingly delicious meal.  She imparted no urgency and no one secretly gave me to evil eye for such treatment.

Had she thought of it, she might have added, “Welcome to First Class.”

This scenario highlighted something that I know theoretically, but always need to be reminded of, and I suspect you do too.

Most of “the rules” aren’t rules at all.

They’re suggestions put in place to serve someone else, but the rules don’t necessarily serve you or your goals.  Even a rule couched in safety, like putting everything away before landing, has a lot more wiggle room than those of us normally riding in Economy Class are led to believe.

So every time someone tells you that you can’t pursue a career you love because

  • you don’t have the right degree
  • you don’t have enough experience
  • you’re too young or too old
  • you’re not talented enough
  • you won’t make enough money

Ask yourself these questions: who made these rules and who do they serve?

If the answer to both questions isn’t you, don’t feel obligated to follow them.

Sometimes that means asking for what you want or following the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” model.

Most of the time though, it’s just a matter of realizing the rules aren’t rules at all.

Still need convincing?  Ask yourself if even one person with similar circumstances has done what you’d like to do.

If so, then you know it’s not a rule.

It’s a challenge.


Ready for a First Class career? Check out my free mini-course on professional rule bending at the No Regrets Career Academy.