There are many perks associated with pushing boundaries and breaking rules as an innovator. Yet, when it comes to business models and unique offerings, stepping outside the social norms can be daunting. In times of change and stress, we naturally fall back on the tried and true to give us a sense of security.
According to Jason Kotecki, Chief Creative Guy at Escape Adulthood and author of "Penguins Can't Fly +39 Other Rules That Don't Exist," while the status quo may feel safe, it's actually the most dangerous place to stay. "In order to survive -- and thrive -- in this fast-moving environment, rule breaking is a requirement, not an option," Kotecki explains. "We need to see the world with new eyes and identify the old ways of thinking that are holding us back. Blindly adhering to them fosters stale thinking and stagnation."
The rewards for people who can rise above "Adultitus" can be tremendous. "One thing all great titans of industry have in common is that they identify rules that don't exist and have the courage to break them," Kotecki notes.
He offers some prime examples of #NotARule where entrepreneurs who broke them went on to make fortunes:
· Henry Ford: Thou shalt manufacture goods one at a time.
· Walt Disney: Audiences will watch a feature-length animated movie.
· Brownie Wise (Tupperware): House parties are no place for selling.
So what are the top rules that Kotecki encourages readers to break?
1. Thou shalt wait for permission before doing something awesome.
"Steven Spielberg was originally going to use stop-motion to animate the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park," Kotecki says. "But some rebels at Industrial Light & Magic got into some covert experimentation. Even though they were told that creating the dinosaurs in CGI was not an option -- no one believed they'd look realistic enough -- the team secretly worked on a computer-generated T-Rex in their off-hours. One day, some producers saw their film playing on a monitor. Stop-motion was out, CGI was in, and movies have never been the same."
Your boss, banker, or board of directors may not "get" your vision when you share it, especially if it's something new. Kotecki suggests showing them instead.
2. Thou shalt not have too much fun at work.
"After speaking at a conference for 9-1-1 operators, a woman shared what a drag it was working at her dispatch center. 'We used to keep toys at our workstations and had a lot of fun decorating our offices for holidays,' she said. 'But our new boss doesn't allow it, claiming we need to be more serious and focused on our tasks. It's really affected the morale of our whole team. I love what I do, but I hate where I work.' Burnout and employee retention are issues in every industry. They can be easily resolved, but only by leaders who are smart enough to understand that having fun in no way diminishes the seriousness of an endeavor." Kotecki explains.
He continues, "I can't imagine many more serious occupations than being a 9-1-1 dispatcher. To think that anyone can survive--let alone thrive--in such an environment without some fun and humor is just plain idiotic. Simple things like hosting an ugly sweater contest, decorating the workplace for Halloween, and randomly bringing in cupcakes are easy ways to keep things lighter and build team morale. Our world is aching for silliness, for a little excess, not just in the backyard, but in the boardroom as well."
3. Thou shalt be realistic.
"No one likes to be called a fool, or worse yet, a failure," Kotecki notes. "After all, the bigger your aspirations, the more likely you are to fall flat on your face. Claiming to have "realistic goals" may make you sound smart and reasonable, but the problem is that realism isn't exciting or motivating." He reminds us of President John F. Kennedy's declaration in 1961 that America would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade, even though the first handheld pocket calculator would not be invented for another five years! As we all know, Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969.
Kotecki explains: "Whether it's the takedown of Blockbuster by Netflix, the invention of the artificial heart valve, or the blind guy who climbed Mount Everest, history is full of examples of accomplishments that didn't seem realistic -- but if a dream is realistic, it's not really a dream. It's an item on your to-do list."
Kotecki says that whether or not you accomplish the seemingly impossible, just shooting for the moon is fun. "Of course, you might not make it," he concedes. "You may fall woefully short. But at least you'll know you tried something big. And you might make it farther than you ever imagined. Perhaps you'll stumble on an amazing opportunity you wouldn't otherwise have uncovered. Plus, it's way more fun to take a leap than expecting the worst or settling for inching along the safe path. Either way, it's a much better alternative than being realistic."