Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I hate rules

Since this is my first post, I guess I should clarify. People get all freaked out when I say I "hate" or "love" something. This ladies and gentlemen is what is called not-so-subtle hyperbole. But the more I think about it, my feelings do linger more on the binary side (I am a geek after all) and most of my thoughts are love/hate, just ask my wife, I'm either not interested in something or I'm in love with it, there is little in-between and it changes quickly (which makes being married to me one thing: interesting).

So, now that I got that little disclaimer du jour out of the way... I hate rules. And David Batstone of Worthwhile wrote this little ditty about how we have all these people not following the rules, whether it be the corporate trash doing the perp walk, or Kobe with his pass off the backboard, and what is Mr. Batstone supposed to tell his Little League team about the rules? Follow them and be a has been/never was? He also talks about personal integrity, which I'll admit is lacking in the world today. But I want to talk about rules, and how I hate them, or more specifically, I hate arbitrary rules.

I refuse to adhere to silly, seemingly arbitrary rules. I've just never understood the "well, that's the rules". Usually I ask, like a four-year-old... "why". Nearly every time I get something resembling justification for the rules, but in reality, there is not much behind it. It's almost like the "because I said so" defense that parents often use against misbehaving children. I've never understood that either. Why not be honest and say "I'm feeling embarrassed because of the way you are acting" or something like that. Granted, it might be a little harsh, but welcome to Earth, it's a little harsh out there.

While I'm running around hating rules, I might as well share my disdain for implied rules. Just ask Kwame about implied rules. "I wasn't aware I could fire Omarosa". Kwame, wake up my friend. If the boat is sinking and someone is making it sink faster, do the world a favor and kick their ass out. I don't care if it's reality TV or reality reality. FIn the immortal words of Bob Sugar of Jerry Maguire fame: "It's not 'show friends', it's show BUSINESS". You can't tell me that if Bill (or Amy for that matter) was saddled with Omarosa that they wouldn't have canned her ASAP. Truth be told, before I watched the last two episodes of The Apprentice, a coworker was saying how Kwame was screwed by Omarosa and her lying. I told my coworker I wouldn't have "hired" her, and she responded with what I would have expected: "he had to pick three people, so one way or another he was going to end up with her". I disagree. Why not think bigger? Why not think of the true terms of success? Personally, I would have taken two people and told Omarosa to take a walk, especially for a short-term task like this. But why limit yourself with these preconceived notions of implied rules? I walk around corporate America oblivious to most implied rules because I'm a malcontent and believe that any of those implied rules were created by people who have no clue how work is really done anyway.

But I do understand there are rules that need to be followed. Writing this had me thinking back to a lesson I learned a long time ago that I will probably teach my daughter. The bottom line in life is this: You don't have to do anything (i.e. there are no rules). You can do whatever you want, BUT the implications of your actions could result in something you don't want. You don't want to go to college, but that might mean that you'll never have the opportunity to have a job that you want (Doctor, veterinarian, etc.). You must consider the outcome if you don't follow the rules. I didn't follow many of the typical rules of life, and I seem to be doing ok so far. I will continue to ignore many of the rules at work since they are arbitrary and/or implied. Oh, and that just brought up another good point on rules, I can't close just yet.

I also love rules that are never enforced. I'll take dress code rules as an example. Being a geek, I have lots of shirts with big gaudy logos on them. It's great, I get a free shirt (and many times, a nice, free shirt) the company gets a little advertising above my shirt pocket; it works out for everyone. But I had this guy come up to me and say "that's against the dress code". I pretty much ignored him because I didn't want to get into it with him, but here's ultimately what I think: I don't care. I'm not going to sit here and toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty valuable guy in my specific job doing specifically what I do and have garnered some respect from the ranks of upper management. So if the upper management folks want to fire me over a company logo on a nicely pressed dress shirt, then I have two words for them: HAVE FUN. If that's the type of place that I work at, then it's news to me and I probably need to move on. So I continue to wear my logo'ed shirts and ignore the guys trying to ruin my day by pulling the dress code crap on me. The bottom line for me on not enforcing rules (including dress code rules) is this: it degrades the rest of the rules. I don't remember where I read this, it seems to me that the person was relating the story to an experience he had in the Navy, but I don't remember. He said to pick the rules you are really serious about and ones that you aren't serious about, remove them. If you don't plan to punish someone based upon those rules, then don't have them. I really like that theory, it's worked for me so far.

Ok, now I'm tired and sore (for no good reason) and wishing it would be warmer here. Just remember kids, rules stink, don't follow them unless you absolutely have to, and most importantly have fun.