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Sunday Morning Coffee: Stop Following the Rules

November 11, 2012

One thing that continues to baffle me is how well Americans follow the rules (in public).

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Certainly, order does trump chaos, so rules are important, but the extent to which rules are followed varies throughout the world.  In developing countries, rules often tend to be treated as more like guidelines, and if corruption is going on, the rules are just completely ignored.

So, why do we follow rules in the first place? Rules do a few things: first, they help to establish accepted norms of interaction.   Secondly, rules ensure the communal good (safety, fairness, and so on).  For instance, when two cars pull up at a stop sign intersection, the rules of right-of-way make it easy to decide who should go first.  It also gives both drivers the peace of mind that if they follow the right-of-way rule, then they can proceed through the intersection safely.

So far, rules seem great –they help us communicate and they create a net benefit.  So why are so many rules ignored?

The trouble with rules stems from an economic concept called the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”.  Essentially, if everyone follows the rules, then the person that breaks them stands to benefit (e.g. the person who cheats on a test), whereas if everyone breaks the rule, then everyone ends up worse off (e.g. the teacher realizes everyone cheated and punishes everyone).

In America, we have done an excellent job at creating a rule-fearing society.  For the most part, people just follow the rules without question.  In fact, often rules are self-enforcing because Americans call eachother out when they break the rules.  This is part of our culture, but it is also part of being a developed country (people are more likely to trust the rule-enforcers).

Why you should break the rules

Rules are excellent when it comes to driving, sports and the law.  The problem is that too often, we keep following the rules in areas we shouldn’t.

Rules are meant to be broken:

-          When you are designing something that has never been designed before

-          When you are creating a business strategy that isn’t the same old norm

-          When you are building the next big thing.

Rules should not define your creativity.  When it comes to free thinking and new solutions…break the rules!

~ Bryan

If you step in the shower, You’re going to get wet.

October 29, 2012

Embrace it

As entrepreneurs come to find out, there are lots of inherent risks to starting your own business. Social entrepreneurs working in the developing world know that they’re about to face challenges and risks unlike any other. And yet they jump in head first. Seemingly.

Maybe not every entrepreneur is like that. While you need a fearless leader to guide your team, not every entrepreneur is ecstatic about the possibility of being left without money and a job if things go sour. The risks to your personal, financial, and professional lives can be frightening but can also become a source of negative energy once IN the startup phase.

You cannot just assume “some” of the risk in front of you. Whatever is your share is yours whether you like it or not. So rather than occupy much of your mental energy worrying about the risks that you’ve (already) taken, embrace the risk and turn it to positive energy.

You can’t solve your latest product conundrum when you’re constantly thinking about the future. You can’t sell your idea to others when your voice sounds fearful. You can’t reach your potential when you’ve (unbeknownst to you) tethered yourself to the ground.

The phrase “throwing caution to the wind” comes to mind here. Yet this is not to say that one should be reckless or without fear.

The fact remains: you’re going to take risk. You can’t predict the future. You don’t know that you’re going to succeed. But you don’t know you’re going to fail. You can’t step in the shower without getting wet. Make the best of it.

- Chris

What’s your fallback?

October 8, 2012

As humans we have a tendency to fall back on what we know or are comfortable with in times of difficulty. When times get tough, our true character shows. The same is true for businesses, especially social enterprises.

Just as a trip home to spend time with family can help to rejuvenate, refocus or reprioritize our lives, so too can businesses get a “jump start” from their fallback. What is that fallback for you and your business? Might it be a chat with your advisors? Maybe it’s a company meeting to dust off your mission statement and realign current projects.

But why do we need this? As business progresses, efforts can sometimes be more focused on the details than the bigger vision. Now don’t get me wrong, living in the details is a necessity for companies, but that’s where leaders come in to provide guidance and a sense of calming to ensure that we still are moving towards the greater vision.

Yet at times we may diverge from our values – this is not unusual. This is where our fallbacks come into play. They serve as a healthy reminder for who we are, why we’re doing this, and can sometimes provide a unique perspective to which we’ve become blinded. Read more »

Give people a way to make the right decision

September 17, 2012

Shortcuts are generally risky. Just ask anyone who has seen the financial crisis unfold first hand, opted for medical tourism, or run a business with environmental concerns.

Yet why do we take them so often? Well for the obvious reasons that our decision could end up being cheaper, quicker, and less of a hassle. Many times the decisions are made easier by the lack of oversight and dishonest regulators who might not only allow shortcuts but encourage them. Many times, the downstream effect of our choices is so far from view, that the consequences of taking product shortcuts don’t seem real. Read more »

A Path Away From Pride & Prejudice

September 13, 2012

When Dreams Alight
2009 was a seminal year in my life.  That was the year that I took my first step.

Looking back on the path of my life, I can see clearly that I grew up dreaming of making a difference in a world that didn’t feel quite equitable—even if I didn’t understand why.

My dreams shaped my choices and my choices shaped my experiences, but until 2009, I had yet to diverge.

Chris and I started Rising Pyramid three years ago because we were dissatisfied with the level of difference we could make at our day jobs.

Back then, we were high-fiving when we got over 10 viewers in a day.  Reflecting back, at first, Rising Pyramid was more about us than about the outside world; we were learning and inspiring ourselves as we wrote.

Three years ago when we published our first post, we pivoted away from the normal path.  That action was significant, not because it mattered to the rest of the world, but because it was a choice that mattered within. Read more »

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