Working Beyond the Rules

leaf-leaves-autumn-beech Hello again! Today I'm sharing an oldie but goodie about the need for us to work beyond the rules. It's a short post, but an important reminder for many of us. Keep an eye out for new material post-vacation next week! Until then...

I don't know about you, but the transition to Autumn always feels so exciting and transformative to me.

In Oregon, the school year would always start around this time, and I remember feeling giddy about all of the new opportunities that another year would provide: new school supplies with which to express myself ("But what does the unicorn notebook really say about me?"), new seating charts, new pictures, the chance to learn and grow in new ways.

I feel that newness now as an adult, and I think this season challenges us to think beyond what happened last year, beyond the rules, beyond how things are typically done. We can choose to cling to the boundaries that are outlined for us or expand our view. David Whyte has such a beautiful -- and powerful -- quote about this subject:

In building a work life, people who follow rules, written or unwritten, too closely and in an unimaginative way are often suffocated by those same rules and die by them, quite often unnoticed and very often unmourned.

Most of us in the workplace are already good enough at following the rules; our challenge is to continuously make sure that the rules we follow serve us and our organizations.

It's imperative that we tap into our curious selves and ask questions like Do these personnel policies contribute to the culture we want?, Does someone actually need 5 years of experience to do this job?, or Do I need more autonomy in my career? 

When we get curious, we can begin to get creative and reimagine what the rules should look like so that they are servants to our needs, not our masters.

We need people in organizations who refuse to suffocate and die by the rules. We need people who are curious and brave and innovative, and we are each all of these things - it's just a matter of allowing ourselves to be this way.

Having rules and boundaries is necessary and helpful a lot of the time; but in a world of increasing bureaucracy and complexity, we have to remember that there is also a time for chaos, mystery, and the creativity that comes from breaking down boundaries.

Autumn is the season in which living matter breaks down to make way for hibernation and new, vibrant life. What better time to break down our own boundaries and make way for change?

If you like what you see and want these posts delivered directly to your inbox, you can sign up for email delivery on the left side of this page above "Archive."