Break the Rules to Make the Most Out of Your Opportunities

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When asked what they are learning, most young people will make an unpleasant face.
Even those who are enjoying themselves will often pretend otherwise.
A youthful ideal for many is to float along without appearing to have any cares...
even if that's not the case.
Underneath seeming to be carefree, some younger people are carefully observing the "successful adults" and following whatever they do.
When that happens, the results can be as counterproductive as when children mimic monkeys at the zoo.
Such conformity reminds me of a story about a guild of assassins.
New assassins were told a few of the rules that would ensure success.
If they applied those lessons well, the young assassins would be promoted to a higher level, and some more secret rules would be disclosed.
This process lasted for several years.
When the learners reached the highest level, the head assassin would calmly share the final rule, "Follow no rules.
" Rules are often nothing more than ways to avoid big mistakes while mastering a task, an activity, a role, or a career.
With enough experience, other considerations can be brought to bear so that greater accomplishments occur.
Most businesspeople would be much better served by taking the perspective of the expert in questioning "rules" from the beginning.
In the process, the worst that can occur is that a better understanding of the reasoning behind the rule will be gained.
Here are three questions you should answer: 1.
Where are "rules" keeping attractive opportunities at arm's length? 2.
Why haven't you discarded such "rules"? 3.
How can you make better decisions, including knowing when to "break" the rules? Let me provide examples of how some successful businesspeople have answered each of these questions, beginning with where "rules" are keeping attractive opportunities at arm's length.
In this regard, I'm reminded of Sir Richard Branson, who didn't like going to school as a teenager.
Sir Richard was much more excited about becoming a publisher of a national newspaper, Student.
So he dropped out of school to start his astonishingly successful business career.
While the rule that almost all parents proclaim is that there's no success without a good education, for some few highly talented entrepreneurs that rule doesn't apply.
They learned more by entering the school of "hard knocks" while they built businesses, a route that also worked well for Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Michael Dell (Dell).
Such an action naturally raises the question of when is the right time to make such a switch.
While Sir Richard dropped out of the equivalent of high school in the United Kingdom, both Gates and Dell attended some college before making the shift.
Some highly successful entrepreneurs didn't get their starts until long after they finished all the formal education they thought they could use.
There may be reasons to get experience that can be applied in a different way, such as by studying how larger organizations operate before developing a competing model to replace them.
Thus, the highly educated founders of Intel Corporation worked at a pioneering semiconductor company, Fairchild, before launching first a semiconductor memory business and later a microprocessor.
By the time they were running Intel, CEO Andy Grove was proclaiming, Only the Paranoid Survive.
That's certainly not a lesson he picked up in graduate school.
Since then, many entrepreneurs have adopted Grove's new "rule.
" To help you better understand when to break the rules, I decided to ask Alan Guinn, a well-respected academic and entrepreneur, to comment.
Here is what Alan observed: "Having worked in both large corporations and consulted with smaller companies -- having worked with start-ups and mergers/acquisitions, I have gained knowledge and experiences that can help others avoid making the same mistakes that I and others have.
That is an immensely valuable asset to be able to tap into, I believe, and I enjoy being able to share that knowledge and experience.
"By drawing on what more experienced people have learned about when the rules do and don't apply, younger people can move forward into taking the right chances at the best times.
"They need to be inquisitive, and not just rely on what one person has to say.
Check around and test what you hear, and you won't go far wrong.
" Let me leave you with one assignment for today: Start checking out a rule that you should probably be breaking.
You'll be glad that you did.

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