Life’s Rules

I recently had the opportunity to spend seven hours in my car with the legendary motivational speaker and world renowned life coach, Tony Robbins. (Books on CDs are a wonderful thing.) If you’ve seen the movie Shallow Hal, you’ll recall the scene where Jack Black’s character bumps into Tony Robbins. During their brief encounter Tony implants Jack with the idea that he’ll only see the inner beauty of women. As a result Tony’s implanted idea, Jack’s mind shifts. He begins to see the world in a completely new way and thus he experiences the world in a new way.

During my car ride with Tony, he also planted a notion in my head which has caused me to view the world in a new way. He explained to me that I have pre-established rules which greatly influence my life. Most of my life is governed by very vague rules which allow lots of room for exception and acceptance which in itself is not a bad thing. The rules regarding my social acceptance and tolerance are pretty good, but the rules I had around my health were a perfect example for getting an outcome I didn’t desire and not understanding why I kept getting an outcome I didn’t desire.

Tony used two of his friends to illustrate how having different rules impact the outcome on their lives. He described one friend of being very physically fit and the other one not in the best of physical health. I could fully empathize with the unhealthy friend he described. He had asked both what rules they each had regarding their health. The less than healthy friend said, “I should eat right. I should exercise. I should avoid fatty foods. I should drink plenty of water. I should not sit on the couch so much. I should eat more fruits and vegetables.” When he asked his healthy friend what her rules around her health were she replied, “I must only eat foods which are good for me. I must exercise every day. I must never do anything that will harm my body.”

It became clear to me at that moment my life was full of should and not many musts. There is nothing wrong with should rules in one’s life, but having only should rules allowed me  too much latitude in their adherence. By having such loose rules I rarely experienced personal pain in letting myself down and more importantly rarely accomplished any uncommon result. I had resigned myself to the notion that I lacked self discipline as if it were something one is born with or without. The truth I discovered is discipline is a simple matter of setting the correct rules for my life.

I now try to be aware of the rules of my life. Additionally, I have begun resetting those life rules which affect an area in which I want to see a break through change. For example, the rules I now have around my health are simple. I must be consciously aware of anything I digest and consider its effect on my body. I must exercise every day. I still have a bunch of should rules too but my must rules are the ones I feel tremendous pain and guilt if I disregard.

So how do should and must rules impact us and our customers? If you can acknowledge you already have a bunch of rules that you are aware of and unaware of I think you can see how they may be affecting our customers, co-workers, families and ourselves. By becoming aware of your rules you can quickly and efficiently reset them to achieve better results.

What are your rules regarding teammates? How do your rules affect your ability to coach and be coached? What rules do you have regarding your customers? How might you adjust them to provide even better service? What result in your life would you like to change? What rules in your life need to be more tightly defined?

“Small changes can make huge destination differences.”  ~ Sean Covey


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