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Philip E. Humbert, PhD

Author - Speaker

Personal Coach

Chapter 10:
Golden Secret #9: Know the Rules!
(And When to Ignore Them!)

Great leaders know that life has rules, and they are enforced without favor or preference.  But they also know that most of the "rules" are only current customs.  The winners in life have the creativity and daring to challenge conventional wisdom and seek new opportunities, without breaking the rules!

Knowing the difference between life's "Rules" and what are merely current customs, is absolutely essential to achieving extraordinary success.  For example, some of life's RULES include:

  • Play Fair
  • Tell the Truth
  • Keep your Promises
  • Add Value and Make A Contribution
  • You have to put something in, before you take anything back out

On the other hand, at various times conventional wisdom has said that:

  • Humans will never fly
  • World War I was "the war to end all wars"
  • In the late 1800's the U.S. Patent office recommended that Congress disband it because, "Everything that can be invented, has been invented."

Great fortunes have always been made by people who honor and cooperate with life's essential rules, while having the courage to ignore the "conventional wisdom" of popular opinion.  Let me share a personal example that worked out very well for me. 

Almost 20 years ago, I opened a small private practice as a Psychologist.  At first, I had few clients, so I determined to personally answer my phone whenever possible, to return all phone messages before going home at the end of the day, and to complete all testing and Psychological evaluations within 3 days.  I can't claim any great wisdom or business genius.  I simply had time on my hands and my intuition said that potential clients would appreciate talking directly with me.

At the time, several colleagues warned me that I was making a huge mistake.  That told me that by answering my own phone, I was sending the message that I couldn't afford a secretary, that I wasn't busy, and probably wasn't a very good therapist.  They also advised me that completing and mailing reports in only 3 days would give the impression that I was doing fast, sloppy work. 

Well.  Clients did appreciate being able to talk with the therapist (often on their first call!) rather than an answering service.   Agencies and physicians who referred people to me, greatly appreciated the fast response times!  That first small practice filled up within a few months, and I've never looked back!

And, even more important, Psychologists used to think insurance would pay our fees and keep our practices full forever.  It was, frankly, rather easy work and great money.  But, over the years as managed care and other changes took place, many of my colleagues found it difficult to keep their offices full, while I had personal relationships and a reputation for service that kept my practice full right up to the day I retired.

Ignoring the conventional wisdom of my colleagues worked very well!  In every office and every profession, there are RULES that must be honored.  In health care, honoring the trust and confidentiality of patients is essential.  Telling the truth is critical in every business.  Providing real value, not just hype or illusion is the only path to long-lasting success.  These things don't change, and cannot be ignored.

If you lie, cheat, steal or betray your customer's trust, life will charge you a penalty.

On the other hand, ignoring and even flaunting conventional wisdom is the road to huge success.  I think of examples like Southwest Airlines - the most successful and most profitable new airline in the world!  They don't have reservations, they flaunted all the rules about how things "should" be done.  And customers love it!

Or, consider another airline, Midwest Express, based out of Milwaukee.  Every seat is a first class seat, food is served with real china, and every passenger gets a hot chocolate chip cookie!  Now, that's service!

What are the conventions and assumptions you need to ignore?  When I began listing my Psychological services on the Internet, colleagues thought I was crazy.  And I don't know that it made me any money - but it opened the door to a new career, it gave me an education, and some of my patients did look at the site.  No harm, and huge gains!

For a variety of personal and family reasons, one of my recent clients began doing all of his creative work during the night, and sleeping during the day.  Turns out, he is far more productive, his family seems to "work" smoother, and he's making a lot more money.  Crazy?  How about creative and very smart!

Once again, what are the conventions and assumptions you need to ignore?

It has become a cliché to talk about thinking "outside the box", but the image is a good one.  Find your own way.   Listen to your intuition and your heart, trust your instincts, and look at your life with fresh eyes.

Let's close with a wonderful quote from George Bernard Shaw:  "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."  What would happen if you started living from the perspective of "why not?" Ask questions, challenge your traditions and assumptions, and see what happens.

Almost 100 years ago, the Wilbur and Orville Wright thought that humans could fly.  Those crazy brothers were right, and the world has been different ever since!  Whatever you want or believe you can do, begin it now!   Go for it!

 

============================================

Quotes of the Week:

"Success breeds success. Attend to your mind's most joyful, effective discovery process.  Bolster the self-beliefs that add confidence, lucidity, and tenacity to your efforts.  You'll get more out of what you notice, so heed whatever gives you wisdom." 
                                                               - Marsha Sinetar

"Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask, but when we are challenged to be what we can become."
                                                                - Morris Adler

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." 
                                                                - Eleanor Roosevelt

"To love what you do and feel that it matters, how on earth could anything be more fun."
                                                                - Katherine Graham


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© Copyright 1999 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. May be freely copied and distributed as long as you include  the following information:  "The author is Philip E. Humbert, PhD.  His Internet site has many articles like this one, free reports, and a free motivational screensaver!  Visit him at:  http://www.philiphumbert.com

 

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(C) Copyright, 1999