No, I am not going to teach you how to make meth. Rather, today we are going to talk about rule-breaking behavior. You read that right…we are going to break the rules.
Think about two accountants, both of whom have become aware of some discrepancies in their client’s books. The first one takes this very seriously and launches a formal investigation. The second one minimizes it and views it as a simple error. What accountant is believed to have greater clout? Believe it or not, in a research study, participants chose the latter…by a landslide.
Why you may ask. It is actually quite simple. We perceive those who break the rules, challenge authority, and flaunt convention (all at least within reason), as more powerful. Thelma and Louise, Walter White, Lady Gaga…we are obsessed.
Interestingly, minor rule-breaking behavior, has been shown to lead to greater successful entrepreneurship. When we take a risk, testosterone levels rise giving us a “high,” which primes our brain for future risk-taking. This is empowering. Of course, over the course of time, risk-taking can become reckless and ultimately lead to our downfall. This may be why at times the wealthy and powerful can seem less empathic, more entitled, and less in-tuned to normative rules of social engagement.
Think about when you were young, you acted without thought to consequences…you jumped off the monkey bars, you ate dirt and maybe even a worm, you ran with abandon…and then you grew up and you started living within your society-imposed box. So how can you be more open to taking risks?
1. Change the label of “risk.” When we label something, we automatically associate various thoughts and feelings with that thing. As adults, we tend to avoid and fear “risk.” So label things you might view as risks as opportunities, challenges, journeys, or explorations. I have been skydiving. Yes, it might sound silly to jump out of a perfectly good airplane yet in reality I had a higher likelihood of being injured in a car accident that day. So go ahead and jump.
2. Take small steps. You do not have to jump out of an airplane tomorrow or go cage diving with great white sharks…although I highly recommend both. Try a different restaurant. Try a different dish at your favorite restaurant. Try a new activity. Whatever it is, go outside of the box of your everyday mundane choices.
3. Do not focus on outcomes. Embrace the journey. You may not like that new restaurant but chances are in the process you will find a new favorite place. By recognizing that you will not always succeed, and that in fact success by definition includes failure, you liberate yourself.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller