Tuesday, March 14, 2017

If Rules Aren't Meant To Be Broken Surely We Can Bend Them A Little

Some time ago I listened to Bill Gates talk about philanthropy, education and innovation  on Radio National and remember being delighted by the announcer's closing statement, "To draw more people into thinking big and outside the square, we must change how we teach". That means teaching everyone from school children to the elderly that it's OK to MAKE MISTAKES and it's OK TAKE A CHANCE. In case you are wondering, my keyboard isn't stuck on caps lock and yes I am shouting. Of course, the best risk takers are the ones who have nothing to lose... I have never really met a rule. Rules control behaviour. Not that I'm an advocate for unruly and socially unacceptable behaviour either. I simply (some would say naively) believe that if we all came from a place of respect and kindness  we wouldn't need a formal set of rules. 

A few years ago we went with several other families on a camping holiday for a long weekend. This holiday location was full of signs that started with DON'T!


Don't Run
Don't Ride Bikes
Don't Disturb Other Guests
Don't Leave Your Rubbish...


You get the picture? We were on the lookout for the "Don't Have Fun" sign. As you could perhaps imagine, there were several comments made about the Nazi like strict operations of the park. We couldn't contain our laughter when the Park Supervisor appeared on a small moped with a helmet like Schultz used to wear in Hogan's Heroes. There are a couple of entrepreneurs with colourful "Oops I think I accidentally on purpose broke the rules" stories that I admire and have one of those "oh I wish that had been me" 
moments over. 

Sara Blakely is the founding CEO of Spanx, a hosiery brand.She launched the brand from her home and it's now worth over $1Billion. The story goes that Nieman Marcus, a US department store, agreed to stock Spanx (well the buyers did) and try the range out with its customers. They tucked the product up the back of the store, keeping the big names in the prominent point of sale positions. Sara Blakely took herself off to Target and visited the hardware section where she purchased a quantity of metal shelving. Somehow this metal shelving found itself at Nieman Marcus, near the front of the registers. Miraculously, the shelves were soon occupied by Spanx hosiery. The only reason  the "ghost who installs shelves and stocks them with Spanx" was identified, was because Sara Blakely was caught on CCTV.

Walt Disney was told not to make a hero out of a mouse because women would be frightened! He was told never to mix animated characters with actors. He was told people would never sit through an animated feature film. Walt Disney was always told what not to do. And he did it anyway. 

Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Steve Jobs (Apple) were all risk takers and they all broke Rules. They challenged the status quo and jumped (at times leapt) outside the square.

Happy crawling, hopping, jumping, leaping...

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