Following the rules

Posted on September 14, 2021
By rita cincotta

Following the rules

I like rules.  I like order and structure, and I love a plan.  I especially love when I can set the rules, create and maintain the order and structure, and have a plan that I have written be followed.  Whether it stems from the fact that I am the first born, my level of comfort with assertiveness or the fact that I am happy to admit that I love control and don’t like to be out of control, could be anyone’s guess.

I do not however like following rules.  Now I am not a law breaker, and I am not oblivious to societal rules and courtesy.  Although I really dislike instructions of any kind.  I find them tedious, they never make sense, and my brain prefers words to pictures.   If someone tells me how I have to do something, I will instantly back away, and I start preparing my own approach, without following their rules.   Who do they think they are anyway?

The impact of me frequently not following rules is that flat packed furniture takes three times the amount of time it should take to assemble.  I usually give in, or a member of my family rescues me from entering hour number eight of assembling furniture.  Recipes always take an interesting turn.  A bit of nutmeg instead of cumin, why not?  Oh, that dough needed to rise for six hours, never mind, lunch needs to be ready in one hour.   Oops, this is a slow cook recipe, oh well, it will have to be dinner for tomorrow night.  So, I am constantly caught unaware.  Not very planned really, is it?!

A couple of weeks ago I actually gave in and followed the rules.  My mentors had given me a sound and tested approach that would ensure my preparation for a piece of work would be far easier than it had been.   They have been saying the same thing for over twelve months.  In that time, I have gone about using my own approach with good outcomes, but I have been sprinting across that finish line exhausted and wondering about what could have been better had I followed the rules. This time, I sat down and read through the guidance from start to finish.  I took notes, I watched recordings and I prepared diligently.  I planned according to the rules.  I delivered my project and I felt energised, and enthusiastic about the success of this work. I crossed that finish line with energy and confidence.

Reflecting upon this activity five key insights arose:

  1. I didn’t lose any authenticity just because I followed the rules
  2. I didn’t feel controlled or stifled because my flavour was still added to the approach, albeit just a pinch, not the jar
  3. I felt more relaxed
  4. I was not exhausted by the end of it
  5. I felt confident and proud about the outcome

Maybe I can follow the rules after all.

Rita Cincotta is an author, coach, speaker, and facilitator focused on team and individual performance, leadership development and ways of working. She works with organisations to help them develop a culture that delivers an optimal experience for their teams and customers.

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