Rules are important. Without them, we’d live in chaos and confusion. Rules are needed at all levels of society including government, business, school, and home.
But sometimes rules need to be broken.
Yesterday was the first day of summer for my kids, ages 5 and 7. We stayed in our pajamas until 2:00 pm. Played too many video games. Ate popcorn for lunch. Devoured jellybeans before dinner. Spent an hour at the LEGO store and stayed up well past bedtime.
We needed a day to break all the rules.
My first year as an Algebra teacher I overheard an outgoing 8th grader say to one of my incoming students, “Mrs. L is really strict, but her class is a total blast!” Best. Compliment. Ever.
If you run a tight ship at work, school or home it’s important to know when to relax and have fun. Here are some great times to break the rules:
- After everyone gets in line. Establishing the rules takes time. At the beginning of each school year I spent a lot of energy getting my students to follow the routine. Once the class was movin’ and groovin’ to the beat of my drum, I planned a surprise game day, canceled homework, or moved the lesson outside to the shade of a beautiful oak tree.
- When your team needs to innovate. Once a year my husband’s technology company has what they call “science fair.” For two days employees drop everything and work on whatever special project they want to tackle.
- Because the troops need a break. Hard work and adhering to the rules causes exhaustion even in the best performers. Give everyone a reprieve by sending them home early, scheduling a special coffee date, or handing out a “free pass” for a particular responsibility or task.
- To celebrate an important milestone. I’m a big believer in taking time to make milestones special. Don’t make a puny sundae and put a big shiny cherry on top. Bend the rules a little and make the celebration stand out from your average day.
- As a reward for individual contributors. When individuals go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, acknowledge their effort by letting them break a rule.
It’s easy to get so focused on routines and guidelines that we forget to shake things up occasionally. When are some times that you’ve broken the rules? Did your team perform better as a result?Credit: The adorable photo in this post is from iStockPhoto.com