Peter Drucker was a management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. Some his books are a part of the Harvard Business Review Classics. Oftentimes the things I write about are inspired by things I’ve read. In his book Managing Oneself, Drucker explains that disabling ignorance paralyzes many of us. This disabling ignorance is due to the invention of rules. What I mean by that is the fact that people simply make up rules about life and the way that it is supposed to be lived. They act as if these self-imposed rules are equal to the laws of physics. These limiting beliefs, rules, and ideas, are a major cause for many of the problems I see with people today. We make assumptions about everything, and accept these assumptions as fact and live in a way that is not aligned with the truth. The truth is that life is very flexible. There are 7 billion people on this earth, so just from a pure numbers standpoint, it’s pretty clear there is no way that these rules can dictate what we all do.
So without further ado, here are some of the completely made up rules people live their lives by.
1. The only way to make money is through a job. I placed this at number one because it is the most illogical of all of the rules. I am not saying everyone is built for a life of entrepreneurship, but what I am saying is that it can definitely be an option for many people. I am currently working a job, however, on the side I take time to write and am in the process of writing a book. I suggest you do something similar. It may not be feasible for you to up and quit your job, but think about a way to do something you love in your spare time and try to make a business out of it.
2. You have to go to college to be a successful person. There are many owners of successful businesses did not graduate with a college degree. Thomas Edison died with more than 1100 patents; he had an 8th grade education. Many people believe that a college degree will be something equivalent to the golden ticket in the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. For many, the reality is an entry-level salary that was less than the tuition they paid, a mountain of debt, and a shrinking amount of job prospects. College is a very useful tool, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t the only way.
3. You need a ton of money to start a business. Some people seem to have the idea that one always needs a large amount of capital to start a business, but is this is simply not the case. In this age of technology, someone equipped with a laptop, a dollar, and a dream is capable of creating a global empire. Youtube, Hotmail, Paypal, all were basically started in a garage.
4. I am too old/young to pursue what ever it is I want to pursue. I read about a 13 year old kid who’s making quite a chunk of change with an online bow-tie business. Colonel Sanders was in his late 50’s when he founded KFC. It is never too early, or too late, to pursue your life’s goals.
5. I can’t do __________ because I have to take care of my children. This one is tough, I know. Having children, a family, and a household to take care of can be overwhelming. It seems like you barely have enough time for anything, let alone pursuing a new goal, but it can be done. It may be harder than usual, but it may be worth it in the end. My mom earned a master’s degree online while having a fulltime job and two children. She simply made time for it. To get what you want you have to deserve what you want.
6. You have to be dishonest to make a lot of money. I see this all too often. People make up a multitude of different reasons for why successful people made it to the top. They must have lied, stolen, or cheated to get there. Obviously there are some unscrupulous people in the business world, but that is not an accurate representation of all rich people. Do you want to know why the owners of successful businesses have so much money? It’s because of you, the consumer. YOU BUY THEIR PRODUCTS. You can complain about how much money these business owners make, but you won’t take a stand and live self sufficiently like the Amish now will you?
7. I have to be realistic. I wish this word were actually deleted from the English language. Can someone explain to me what realistic is? Who is the ultimate authority on what the measuring stick is for reality? This is a very limiting rule people make for themselves and it’s hard for me to understand why. Perception is reality. Do you know what was realistic for Steve Jobs? Creating a 6-inch tall Mac computer that makes phone calls. Martin Luther King thought it was realistic to live in a society where people would be treated more equally. The Wright brothers thought it was realistic to take a giant piece of metal and make it fly like a bird. The only person stopping you is you.
8. It’s impossible. The probability of things is variable of course. Some things may even be considered improbable. However, if you took some of the modern technology we had and presented it to the people who lived 100, 200, 500, 1,000 years ago, they would probably accuse you of sorcery and witchcraft. When I say something like I believe that one day we will be able to teleport, people will respond with “that’s impossible”. How do you know that? I’m sure there are some elderly people that are astonished by the modern conveniences that we have today, and its only going to increase at a more rapid rate. Buckle up.
When we look back at the past, we sometimes like to mock some of the ideas held in previous eras. (Remember, we used to believe in a geocentric solar system model, AND that if you could legitimately fall off the flat earth if you ventured too far into the Atlantic.) If you think about it though, every new age laughs at the old one. Are we so arrogant as to believe that we have it all figured out now? I’m not, and you shouldn’t be either. Just keep an open mind. Quit being so bound by your rules and convictions. You can use your own special lens to view the world; why use it to limit your own power as a human being?