Rules v Standards

The thing with rules is that they’re very black and white. Binary, if you like.

You either obey a rule, or you break it.

Standards, on the other hand, allow outcomes to be achieved through a variety of actions.

Sometimes rules are useful:

  • Do Not Enter: High Voltage
  • First across the line wins the race
  • Keep Left
  • No Naked Flames

Most of the time though, it works better if we set a standard that leads to a desired outcome, rather than prescribing too many rules:

  • “I’m always open to opportunity and will grasp it wherever I see it” might get better results than “I must work until I get three clients today”
  • “I will always behave as my authentic self” wins more friends than “I will never say anything to offend anyone”
  • “I will eat a balanced diet” leads to more happiness than “I must never eat chocolate”
  • “I will deliver value that amazes and delights” beats “No refunds!” every time.

The other great thing about standards is that the higher you raise them, the less need you have for rules at all.

Let’s Get On With It!

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