Rules are a fact of life! They are one of the first things we learn as children. When you were little, your parents created rules to keep you safe. As you grew older, you learned to create rules of your own to bring order into your world.

Everything has rules, at home, at school and on the job. They are all around us! Rules are supposed to make life easier by eliminating confusion and reducing conflict. However, that doesn’t always happen. The problem is rules can become overwhelming or outdated. Eventually rules will break, or be broken, and that means they need to be reviewed and revised.

Leon Trotsky said: “There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war. Everything depends on circumstances.” Circumstances change all the time. The good news is you don’t have to automatically follow rules that no longer make sense, don’t work anymore or are making your life more complicated. Every day you have the opportunity to pause and check to see if your rules need to be changed or can be improved.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” Make sure your rules are in alignment with your values and priorities. For instance, with children you might want to encourage the values of honesty, kindness and responsibility. Your rules could be as simple as always tell the truth, share with your brother and pick up your toys.

Take time to review what you want to accomplish with your rules. Ask yourself why you have a particular rule. Is it necessary? What is the purpose of it? Do you want to keep someone safe, establish order, prevent conflict or get things done in a timely fashion? Once you have clarity about the reason for the rule, you will find it easier to develop a good guideline.

Here are 5 simple tips that will help you develop effective rules and create good guidelines.

  1. K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple and Specific. Rules should be written in clear, concise and easy-to-understand language. Long and complicated rules will only cause confusion. “You can only have fires in the fireplace when an adult is there to help you with the matches because you must have the logs stacked correctly, and you need to close the safety screen plus, if you play with fire, you might get hurt, the house could burn down and I’ll be very angry with you and you will be grounded for the rest of your life.” Say what? It’s much easier to understand “Do not play with fire.”

  2. Rules should be enforceable and possible to follow. “Do not drink and drive” is one example of this. Is it enforceable? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely!

  3. Good rules also have a consequence and a reward. For example: Work first, play later. This type of rule can apply to any age or situation. A child can go out and play, an employee can take a break or go home early. The consequence for not finishing your work is that you miss a good time. The reward is you can do something fun after you are done.

  4. Rules should be fair and not contradict each other. This is something to consider in both personal and professional relationships. With children, keep age-appropriate rules and apply them fairly. In personal or professional relationships, ask yourself if the rules you expect your partner to follow also need to apply to you. In business, particularly where there are different departments or divisions, it is always a good idea to have consistent policies and guidelines for everyone.

  5. Rules should be known by the people you intend to have them followed. Remember what the judge in traffic court said: “I’m sorry you didn’t see the sign, you still have to pay the fine.” If you create a rule, be sure to let the appropriate people know.

If you want to win in the game of life, it’s easier when you have good guidelines and know the rules. Many relationships or business proceedings will fail simply because someone did not know or understand the rules governing the situation. How do you know the rules? Due diligence should be exercised. They can be learned by experience, paying attention or seeking the advice of others. Ask the coach or another parent what are the rules. Check with a fellow employee or read the company policy manual to learn what your supervisor expects.

When it is time to develop new guidelines, ask for advice. Take advantage of the power of the mastermind. Look for people around you that have good working relationships and ask them what their rules are. Building on the experience of others will make a significant and positive impact on your success. You will find that business is more profitable, relationships are more rewarding and life is a whole lot more fun when you have good guidelines and know the rules!

About the Author:

Dr. John (“Dealey”) Carpenter Dealey, International MasterMind expert, business mentor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and self-made millionaire is dedicated to helping people solve problems, finish strong and take their business to the next level.

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