Rules that work like magic 🪄

Two heads of state were discussing important political matters.

Suddenly, a man burst into the room and started shouting and banging his fist on the table.

“Peter,” the resident head of state said. “Please remember Rule #6.”

Like magic, Peter calmed down, apologized and backed out of the room.

The politicians returned to their conversation, only to be interrupted a few minutes later by a woman who was distraught and gesticulating wildly.

Again the interruption was met with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule #6.”

And again, she instantly calmed down and left, apologizing.

After this happened a third time, the visiting politician said: “Amazing. What’s the secret of this Rule #6?”

“Simple,” replied the resident head of state. “Rule #6 is: ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.’”

“Ah,” said his visitor, “that’s a good one. And what are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”*

I don’t like rules when they don’t make sense or restrict my freedom.

I love autonomy.

But guess what. The word autonomy derives from auto (“self”) + nomos (“law” or “rules”) — i.e. creating rules for ourself.

I call them “rules of engagement,” and they’re the secret to self-mastery.

Why is self-mastery important?

It helps you transcend your automatic behaviors — the subconscious reactions that are running your life.

That are driven by fear and feeling not good enough.

That diminish your influence and sabotage your progress.

When I’m triggered and caught in a fog of emotion, rules come to the rescue.

Back when I was selling health insurance — commission only! — I needed sales to pay my monthly bills.

But if I got attached to making the sale, I’d feel desperate or pushy. And you know how that goes.

So I came up with this rule: “Committed but not attached.”

Like magic, it instantly helped me focus on what I controlled — the process.

To give my best and not hold back, regardless of how things were going.

I’m curious, what’s one of your rules? Reply back and let me know.

* From The Art of Possibility, by Ben Zander and Rosamund Zander.