“Rules are made to be broken!”
No truer words were ever spoken by someone who prefers the low road.
Rules have their place.
A society would not survive without rules; we call these cultural mores. Organizations could not exist without rules; we call these the membership code of conduct. Countries need rules and regulations to shape behaviors.
Therefore, all rules are good, right?
No! Not all rules are good or created equal.
High Road Principle:
* Rules, laws, and regulations are written to shape people’s behaviors and provide guidance on how to act.
In many service organizations like Rotary or Soroptimist, the membership is made up of professional people who join for two main reasons:
1) Give back to the community, and
2) Get more business.
But these organizations, from experience, know that if members could, they would constantly promote their business and themselves at meetings and other events.
To prevent this behavior, organizations like these have a rule that you agree to abide by when accepting membership: You must not promote yourself or your business unless there is a specific and predefined way to do so.
Yet in every professional organization, someone will join who fails to follow this code of conduct and soon finds out what happens when the code is broken: removal or ostracism.
This example explains what I mean about rules serving to shape behavior. But some people, because of their DNA do not like to follow rules or see rules as something for everyone else to follow. [See Hubris]
“All rules must be obeyed!”
This attitude, like the previous one, is also dangerous and does not reflect reality.
Groups, organizations, societies, and nations will always enact laws designed to put some people at a disadvantage or take away their rights. Remember the laws that were enforced after the Civil War to prevent people of color, especially African Americans, from voting?
Do all rules and regulations need to be obeyed?
In Venezuela, President Chavez enacted regulations that required citizens to comply with government inquiries. What this really means is that the government will put citizens in prisons for as long as two years if they fail to inform on their neighbors, friends, or family.
This rule is unconscionable.
There are laws which prohibit drivers from going through a red light. This rule is designed to shape bad behavior as well as protect us from unsafe drivers.
So that rule must always be obeyed, right?
You are driving early in the morning, on your way to work. You are the only car on the street. At a major intersection you need to turn left. You wait for the light to turn green. Minutes go by as you wait. It’s now been five minutes.
You look around; still no cars coming. You go against the red light and make the left turn.
You broke a rule!
High Road Principle:
* On the High Road, rules are to be followed for the right reasons.
Rules can be broken for the right reasons as well. Improper and inappropriate rules can always be broken.
Traveling on the High Road, you learn which rules are sacred and which rules need to be questioned or challenged.