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“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.  The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Shaw – Maxims for Revolutionists.

Please re-digest the above quote, I will pause…..Ok, thanks I will precede.  Your perception of the world is all wrong.  You read books, blogs, see speakers and take initiatives to get ahead in life.  You are constantly looking for the solution to success.  You, like many others, will be looking for a very long time.

Steve Jobs’ autobiography and Tim Ferris’ book The Five Hour Workweek helped me crystallize what has been in my mind for years now.  Rules only matter to the extent you honor them.

There are two people in this world; people who blindly follow the rules and people who break or bend the rules.  I want you to realize that rules are a fallacy, no more substance than the passing wind against your hands.  Every rule that exists in your life whether it be work, personal or social was created by someone else.  “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.  And you can change it, influence it…”.  –Steve Jobs.

The only real rules are rules of physics such as the sun rising in the morning and setting at night.  Besides that, we all collectively ACT like the other rules matter.  We obey these rules at home, when we interact at work, how we make money, how we approach our love lives, and ultimately how we live our lives.  Many of us judge each other’s worth and success based on how closely the other adheres to these man-made rules. Ugh, it makes me sick.

A few years ago I came to the realization that not caring what others thought of me was the greatest asset that I possessed (not to be confused with ignoring advice).  This realization alone has helped me perform much better at work, become happier in my love-life and have more meaningful friendships.  At the time I thought that this was the end-all but I was very narrow sighted.  The reason not caring worked was because it allowed me to act outside of the rules that everyone else was following.  If you act in ways to influence others’ perceptions of you, you are likely adhering more closely to the rules of what you should be doing. One quote I believe in- “Everything popular is wrong” – by Tim Ferriss

Next I focused on tackling and controlling fear in my life.  If something felt uncomfortable to do, I willed myself to do it.  Randomly dancing in public, gazing in people’s eyes until they broke eye contact, speaking in front of groups, and asking for a raise are a few of the things I did to fight fear.  In reflection, I realize I was trying to see how far I could bend the rules.  When a friend or co-worker recommends that I shouldn’t do something, my immediate reaction is excitement, because I sense a possible opportunity that the rule followers (majority) will overlook.

After reading the two aforementioned books it became clear that perceived rules are the limiting factor in many people’s lives and the enabler in successful people’s lives.  The world is FILLED with rule followers and as a result the traditional means/paths to becoming successful are very crowded.  There is much less competition for those that can see past the rules and use creative ideas to get there faster.  For instance, let’s say that you want to be a successful business executive one day and right now you’re holding a mid-level position.  If you’re a rule follower you most likely will work longer hours like everyone else to show your commitment and go to an occasional networking event.  If you are a rule bender, you’ll sit back and think, what can I do that no one else would do?  You might want to get a successful mentor to help you out.  How about the CEO of Google, HP or former president George Bush?  Unrealistic?

In 4 hour workweek, Tim Ferris told a class of college students that he’d fly the student that can connect with the most seemingly inaccessible person, around the world for free.  Over the few years Tim ran this experiment, students got in touch with all the execs I named before and a dozen more, yes normal joe-shmo-students.  Many went on to have continuing relationships with these powerhouses.  Just don’t tell the rule followers that you’re going to attempt this because their rule-brains will explode/shut down.

Moral of the story- STOP.  Stop looking at rules like they are set in stone.  There is nothing in life that you HAVE to do, although it may seem like that at first.  The only things you have to do are drink water and eat something.  Preferably something with hot sauce included.

Congratulations- now you are equipped to join the ranks of rule breakers – like Steve Jobs and Tim Ferris.  You don’t however have to be a meanie like Steve was, you can be nice and break rules.

Eric