When To #BreakTheRules: A Few Things To Keep In Mind


Breaking rules can be fun sometimes.  When we were kids, there was an excitement that came over us as soon as we learned what it meant to break the rules.  Many of us like to rebel. The rules are too “restrictive.” Rules stunt growth.  And the list goes on.  The more we ignored rules and got away with it, the more we wanted to continue to break them.

There are a lot of “unwritten” rules out there. One thing I always say is that there is a very obvious reason those rules are unwritten.  It’s because someone came up with them and most people just decided to go along with it.  But it’s nothing in stone that says we have to.  Not in the same way as we would for laws, rules in school or at work.

Now I’m not here to throw stones or to give the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag for those of you who like to “break” the rules.  I just think that there’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to breaking rules, whether written or not.

I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to breaking rules is that you have to be sure to have a reason for doing so.  “Because you feel like it” isn’t a reason.  I do believe there are often many times where folks break rules without a good or even a decent reason and when that happens, that’s when we run into trouble.

For example, we’ve all heard those stories of young, 20-year-old million- and billionaires who never went to college or in some cases, didn’t graduate high school.  One type of response I very often see is something to the effect, “See?  They made it and they didn’t go to college/graduate high school.” In saying that, many think that it’s simply not necessary.

But here is where the sloppiness comes in.  For those who have become rich at very young ages, there is a BIG difference in them and those who believe completion of high school/college attendance are not necessary.  Very often, those who think this advocates people not attending college or graduating high school are NOT in the same boat as far as drive and determination is concerned.  In other words, those who became rich have a TON of ambition and really went after what they wanted, which led to his or her success.  Many of those who simply believe they don’t need college/high school don’t have that nearly that same ambition.  They simply don’t like school and they’re looking for all the reasons to not have to continue.  All they’re seeing is that the person did not attention college or graduate high school and think that it’s possible for everyone, regardless of their level of drive and determination.  It just doesn’t work that way.

This, of course, keeps the argument alive concerning just how much college and a high school diploma is necessary.

I believe we just have to be mindful of the “rules” themselves.  There ARE ways to break certain rules, but if you don’t know how to do so, you’ll make a complete mess of things.  Think about cooking.  Now, would you take a bunch of ingredients from a recipe, toss away the recipe and just throw them together?  Well, MOST of us would not.  Not the first time.  If you’re serious about it, you would likely follow the recipe exactly.  Now, after you’ve prepared the meal a few times, you may be able to see how you can improvise here and there.  Things may still work out just fine.  But at that point, you knew what the existing recipe (the “rules”) were, so you were able to go around them and still come out well.

Now think about driving.  There are certain areas where you can get away with speeding and others, not so much.  But before you just go willy-nilly, you have to at least KNOW what the speed limits are and when you can do this.  I don’t mean to just do whatever because cops aren’t around.  You know that you could probably get away with it a little more often on interstates and highways because you’re able to go faster and there is less traffic than in the city, which gives a little more freedom to do so.  Often (at least I would like to THINK so), many of us would know what the speed limit is before we decide to go over it and by how much.

I think you get the idea. Now some rules should NOT be broken.  Rules don’t exist strictly so that people who don’t feel like following them don’t have to do so. They’re there for structure and very often necessary.  We should absolutely not go out and aim to break every rule out there.

Again, the key is mindfulness about said rules.  Be AWARE of what the “rules” are, again, written or not.  Don’t be sloppy about breaking them.  Have a  sense about what you’re doing.

As a screenwriter, I have broken several “rules” of what others have told me I should not do.  However, I’m being extremely vigilant.  I’m being mindful and respectful of the rules themselves and the other people involved.  That has to be considered as well.  If you care, you have to be absolutely certain your violation of particular rules doesn’t negatively affect them in some way.  That’s part of being sloppy.  At least think if the roles were reversed.  Would you be okay with someone breaking rules where you came out on the wrong end of it?  If you’re someone who is cool with breaking rules, would you just give these people a “pass” because it’s something you do also, or would you have a problem with it?

There are all kinds of quotes out there regarding breaking rules.  Before you’re quick to quote them, share, like, retweet and everything else, think about the person who is responsible for the quote.  Take a look at what they’ve done and how they got there.  Chances are, they weren’t sloppy in HOW they broke the rules.  That’s the key. They were likely very well-aware of the rules being broken, which led them to do so like champs.  Don’t assume that just because these quotes exist, that breaking rules are for everyone.  Because they are absolutely not.

Yes, certain rules were meant to be broken.  But be careful when deciding to break them and most of all, know what the hell you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  You will either be viewed as a genius or an idiot.  How much or little you know will determine where you will be.  There’s also the expression, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

That is another one to be careful with.  But that is a post for another day.

Thanks for reading.

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