Rules are made by those who don't trust others and are followed by those who don't trust themselves.
I admit, this quote is a bit one sided and, for most instances, not functional.
Also, I fully admit that there are times when I mollify myself with the above mantra, exasperated with the makers and keepers of said rules who unwittingly thwart my plans for doing (or not doing) what makes sense to me at the time.
I also accept that my propensity to dispense with the formality of some rules can drive other people just as crazy, my “. . . but I would be right!” thought-bubble notwithstanding.
And if each of us is honest with ourselves, I suspect even those in the middle ground are hedging closer to one pole or the other, rather than hugging dead center: There are those who see rules as rules and those who see rules as guidelines. Both would be right. Nonetheless, we each would favor our own spot to set up camp.
Now that we have made camp in our respective sites, let’s go exploring together.
Here’s what the trail map says:
- Rules are restrictive by definition. They tell you what you can or cannot do.
- Guidelines on the other hand are less restrictive. They give you a rough draft of what is expected and invite you to use your judgement. (Hopefully your best judgement to the greatest good of all.)
Rules and guidelines are the yin and yang of life. You cannot have one without the other, not without falling out of balance.
Having only rules would reduce living to merely existing. There would be no choice.
Having only guidelines might result in chaos. There would be insufficient structure.
Rules and guidelines of necessity work together, yet retain their own distinction.
Rules establish boundaries.
Guidelines stretch them.
Rules say you must!
Guidelines suggest you may.
Rules stipulate either don’t or do.
Within guidelines, experience tells us don’t, and curiosity pushes us towards do.
Rules create order and predictable outcomes.
Guidelines invite things that might not work.
You can stand behind rules. They are safe. They are specific. Their outcomes should not vary. And to a very large degree, rules serve a purpose.
You can walk beside guidelines. They are not necessarily safe, they are certainly not specific, their outcomes are much less predictable, but, like rules, guidelines serve a purpose.
And there’s the rub.
Both work—rules and guidelines. You might be a rules person or you might be a guidelines person. There will be times you will find yourself in a rules environment just as there will be times you will find yourself in a guidelines climate.
Neither one is a one-size-fits-all. To be successful you must be able to navigate both realms.
With rules you need to know them, but you do not necessarily need to understand them. You need only simply follow them. With guidelines it is helpful to know them, but it is of utmost value for you to understand them. You then will be able to refer to them.
So let me rephrase my opening quote:
Rules are created by those who see the need for order and are followed by those who best operate within structure. Guidelines are created by those who see that risk and growth go hand in hand and are followed by those who flourish when things are in flux.
What about you? Do you create structure from which others grow or are you one who grows because you see structure as guidelines?
Me? I don’t go out of my way to break rules. But neither do I avoid sidestepping those that don’t hold purpose in that moment.
How about you?
How about you?
Thank you for reading.