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Follow the Rules

No matter where you go in life, there are rules.  When you drive, you follow a certain set of rules.  When you play a game or sport, there are rules to follow.  When you are out in public interacting with society, there are rules to follow.  Each of these examples has some form of consequence for not following the rules.  Not following the rules while driving can get you a ticket, or worse.  In games or sports, you are penalized which gives your opponent some sort of advantage. When you are in public, inappropriate behavior can get you arrested.

There are also rules at work.  These rules can be federal regulations, codes of conduct, or simply company policy.  Depending on the type of rule or the number of infractions, it is possible to be punished up to, and including dismissal.  Yet, there are still those who blatantly disregard the rules in the workplace. Why would anyone want to break the rules at work?  Your job is what pays for your home, food, clothing, car, and entertainment.  I can’t understand why someone would want to put all that in jeopardy just because they don’t want to follow a certain rule, or set of rules.

Rules are set by the employer for several reasons.  Some rules are to maximize efficiencies, and others are to protect your safety and well-being.  There are also rules that dictate what is best for the overall operation of the company.  Rules are what keep the order in the workplace.  By following the rules you are showing your employer, fellow workers, and the public that you value their interests.  When you break the rules additional expenses are incurred, someone gets hurt, or you project a bad image to the public that reflects back on your company.

Let’s think about this another way.  Your company has many rules, and they expect you to follow all of them.  To make the math easy to do in our heads, let’s say they pay you ten dollars per hour.  You only feel like following 75% of the rules your company has, because you think the other 25% are silly or inconvenient. How would you feel when payday arrived to find that the company only paid you $7.50 per hour?  You would probably feel cheated wouldn’t you?  How do you think your employer feels when he still pays you your full wage, but you fail to do the complete job?

People notice who the dependable ones are in their lives.  You build a reputation over many years, and this reputation follows you everywhere.  Your friends notice and so does your employer.  Success is achieved by those who have a higher level of personal and professional ethics in their lives.  If you want to succeed in your life, then follow the rules!

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If you want to succeed in life you need as many connections as you can get.  The more the better I would say.  The fact is, personal and business connections make success much more attainable.  By closing out certain people or groups you eliminate them, and their connections, from participating in your success.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard someone say that people in positions of authority are not as smart as they are. Yet, the person with the criticism is usually at the bottom (or close to it) of the totem pole.  The person is usually in a group of their peers criticizing someone who has authority over the group.  Whether or not this is consciously realized, this is an effort to convince the others in the group that he is somehow superior to the authority figure, and also the rest of the group.  He is, in a sense, excluding himself from the person or group of authority.

When you distinguish between “us” and “them”, you draw boundaries around yourself.  The person of authority has more information available to him or her, and truly has the “big picture” when they make decisions or set policy.  The subordinate is not privy to the same information, and the decisions the authority figure makes often seem irrational.

Instead of criticizing, talk to the person one on one.  Ask them why they do what they do.  You might be surprised to find that they may offer to explain their reasoning to you.  Maybe they have a bit of information that you do not have, and once you have that information, you will see it their way. There is also the possibility that the authority figure may ask for your input.  You may have an opportunity to offer your perspective on an issue.  A perspective the boss may not have considered. If you act professional and respectful the boss will remember it.  This could be very beneficial to you in the future. Don’t always expect “instant gratification” from these people.  They form opinions of others over time, and not on the spur of the moment.

Success to many means climbing the ladder, and to do that you will need people above you on that ladder to help pull you up.  You may find out that those authority figures aren’t as dumb as you think they are.  They are just people like you are and they make good friends.

Let’s face it, most people out there don’t like change. They get comfortable with the way things are and agitated when someone suggests a different way of doing things. Change is inevitable,and although most people know this, few embrace it.  After all, if successful people didn’t look for a better way of doing things, we would still be living in caves, wearing animal skin, and be without all the modern conveniences we have today.

Think about where we would all be if it weren’t for a few of these changes in life. Henry Ford brought us the first assembly line, and the ability to make many identical items quickly.  Thomas Edison gave us the light bulb.  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs put the computer into everyone’s home.

Ideally, change means to improve upon a method of doing something.  Most of the time it works, but occasionally it doesn’t.  You have to be willing to give the change an honest chance to prove itself.  In business and industry the change has usually been tested prior to implementation. The creators of the change have good reason to believe that the change will be an improvement over the old way of doing things.  Changes in business and industry are usually expensive to implement, so the decision to change is not made lightly. Change in business is in an effort to stay ahead of the competition, and operate more efficiently, and ultimately have an edge over your competitors.  It is only a matter of time before the competitor makes a change to either catch up, or surpass your efforts.  Business leaders are always thinking up new ideas and occasionally a major change to their business model.  If you are not moving forward, you’re going to be passed up.

Let’s talk about change in your personal life.  In order to accept change in your professional life, it is good to become accustomed to change in your personal life. Once you have accepted change as a fact of life, it is just a matter of adapting to each new method as it comes along.  Do you think you are able to deal with change?  Let’s ask ourselves a few questions about change.

Does your music collection dominate any one era or decade?  Do you have more music from the 70’s,  80’s, 90’s or 2000’s? If your music collection stopped growing when Lynard Skinnard was new, you may not be as accepting of change as you think.  Sure, music from these era’s is great, but music from later decades is just as good.  When your music collection stopped growing, so did you as a person.  I am not saying you shouldn’t enjoy some Zeppelin, Floyd, or Jethro Tull.  I am just suggesting you throw some Pearl Jam, Nickelback, and Buck Cherry into the mix.  Grow and change your collection.

Do you still have that awesome mullet that the ladies just loved back in the day?  Get rid of it!!  If you like long hair, there are certainly some great new styles for long hair.  Change it up a bit!  That awesome 80’s haircut is a visual sign that you are not accepting of change.  Someone does not even have to meet you to know this about you, it is evident from across the room. Take a look at the hero’s and role models you had when that haircut was popular.  Billy Ray Cyrus no longer has that “business in the front, party in the back” mullet that made him famous.  He’s still got long hair, but it changes with the times. The guys from Poison have toned it down a bit.  No longer do they sport the styles they did from back in their heyday.  Take a risk and do something different next time you are in the chair.  It will send a message to others that you are adaptable, and open to change.

Do you still have those old concert shirts from high school?  Do you still wear your Robert Plant hip huggers or bell bottoms?  Get rid of that stuff!  Go buy yourself a new shirt, or new pair of pants.  Keep up with the latest styles.  Your outward appearance is a visual cue to others that you either are, or are not able to embrace change.  This whole blog is about being successful.  How many successful people do you know who are stuck in an era from days gone by?  The next time you go shopping (and it should be soon) make an effort to notice the other shoppers around you.  Can you tell the successful ones from the ones who are just getting by?  What sets these people apart from the other shoppers?  Make a note of these visual cues and try to adapt some of them to your lifestyle.

Will a new haircut, or a new shirt make me successful?  Of course not.  Success is a life long culmination of many things. Your efforts over the long run will make a significant difference in the level of success in your life.  Like I said before, success means different things to different people.  No matter what your definition is, change should be a big part of it.

Accept, pursue, and embrace change.  It will make all the difference in the world.

One of the first changes you must make in your life if you want to become successful is to take charge of your own destiny.  No one out there will launch you to the top just because they want to.  You must take an active role in the path you take through life.  One phrase you will find repeated throughout this blog is “No one is responsible for you but you.” I tell my boys this all the time.

Whenever something bad happens to them, or they don’t get something done they were supposed to, the first thing they try to do is blame it on someone else.  “I didn’t get my homework done because Jimmy (or whoever) didn’t call me and I didn’t know what we were supposed to do.”  Blaming someone else for your failure is an example of not taking responsibility for yourself.  Whether Jimmy called or not, you can bet that he got his homework done.  When it starts to get late, and you haven’t heard from Jimmy they you need to take the initiative to call him.  If you can’ t reach Jimmy, call someone else.  When your reliance on someone else determines your success or failure you are not in charge of your destiny.

This same principle applies to adults who have responsibilities in life.  Maybe it is someone else s job to mail your license plate renewal form.  You can be certain that if you get a ticket because your plates expire, the judge will not accept the excuse that you never got the form.  Maybe it got lost in the mail.  Whatever the reason, it’s your neck on the line, and your responsibility to follow-up.  Call the license bureau, or go on their website and email them with your concern.  They will feel no repercussions because you didn’t get your plates renewed.

Follow up, hold their hand through the process, whatever it takes.  No one else is responsible for you.  Let’s look at the other side of this argument:

Let’s say that you are very responsible.  You pay your bills on time, you get your work done, and you are, in your mind, successful at life.  Now imagine that, in addition to taking care of yourself, you are also responsible for taking care of one other person.  (Now if you are a parent, then you really are responsible for taking care of your kids. Don’t let my words persuade you to think that you are not. I am talking about some person not related to you.)  Another guy at work, or maybe your neighbor is what I am suggesting.  OK, now back to my hypothetical situation.  In addition to taking care of yourself, you are now responsible for taking care of someone else.  How does that make you feel?  Why the heck can’t they take care of themselves you ask?  I’m sure that if this were the case, you would take care of yourself first and then try to help the other person if you have time. Since this is some random person, you don’t concern yourself with their success as much as you do with your own.  They should probably learn to take care of themselves, huh?  One less person to compete with.

And life is a competition.  Success is relative.  You are really just trying to do better than the next guy, right?  When competing for a job, a promotion, or an achievement award, or whatever, you must stand out from the group from which you are in.  Successful people are successful because they are the best in their group at what they do.  There will always be winners and losers in life.  If you don’t put forth the effort to become a winner, they you will, by default, become the loser.