What rules are you playing by

Recently I wrote an article here about the fact corporate procedures are a lot like the rules of games – and that by acknowledging this, we could bring game design techniques more clearly into the workplace.  Perhaps make working – or at least corporate procedure – more fun.

It wasn’t, in my opinion, a great article.  It had one idea, and went on, it rambled a lot.  I suspect what I wrote above sums up what I wanted to say more clearly.  Yet I posted the article anyway.  Why?  Because its the rules.  Because I realized the rules I live by are also game mechanics.

I never like the quality of anything I write.

When I look back at things I have written, from a distance, I often like them more.

If I went with my first instinct, I would never publish anything.  I would never share my ideas

If I went with my second instinct, I might share my ideas, but they would never be fresh, I would never be part of the conversation.  In many ways this is what being an introvert feels like in every day communication – it shouldn’t be like that online.

So I came up with a rule.  I publish everything, no matter how much I’m unhappy with it.

Will this make me look a fool in public?  Probably.  But you can respect someone for doing something risky, dangerous and possibly foolish.  You cant respect someone who hides away.

This is by no means the only rule in my life.  When I realized I was being insufficiently careful with money, I made a rule to ensure I saved something.  When I realized that I wasn’t spending enough time with my wife doing things she wanted to do, I made rules about accepting a certain number os social engagements – engagements that I would otherwise avoid like the plague.  I make lots of rules for myself.

But its the rules we don’t realize we’ve made which can be the most devious, and the most destructive.

I’ve accepted my part in the mortgage and pension game.  This has lots of good aspects, but it means I have sacrificed certain freedoms.  I worry about financial security, and, until I see my bank account has enough money to support me and my wife, in the level of comfort to which we’re accustomed, for the rest of our lives, the risks I’m going to take will naturally be limited.  This is a rule I’ve accepted without realizing it.  And its a hard rule to ever consider giving up (indeed giving it up seems to be the epitome of foolishness).  But its a limitation, and it means freedom remains further out of my grasp than without it.

However, its a rule that I’ve identified.  and by identifying this rule, I have the potential to bend it – or break it – or make new rules to compensate.

What rules do you live by that you simply accept as being good common sense and never consider challenging?  What freedoms do you give up by following these rules?  Are the freedoms you gain sufficiently good that following the rules will always make sense?

Is it time to change the game you’re playing?

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