Have you ever asked yourself why it is so much easier to fail than to succeed? Success requires dedication, effort, and a willingness to continually learn. Most of the skills we learn for success and failure are typically acquired from our childhood experiences. As youngsters, we are so loaded with decisions about life that we are bound to program a few that are detrimental to our success. We define these as The Rules for Failure.
For example, have you ever watched kids in a nursery? If a kid wants a toy, he or she walks over and takes it from someone playing with it. Decision time! The kid who was playing with the toy either takes action to retrieve it or sits there and cries; fight or flight. If crying is the choice, the kid who took the toy may decide, "Whenever I want something, I simply take it." This is a variation of Rule #4: Always look out for Number One. Although this decision might appear, at the time, to be a rule for success, it eventually becomes a rule for failure.
By the time we are thirteen years old, we've just about mastered the rules we believe are essential to get what we want in life - but not necessarily the rules to ensure our success. The rules to get what we want to serve as the basis for the behavioral patterns (and skills) we begin to perfect for navigating life.
The point is, we begin to learn a selected set of skills for failing fairly early in life. Every time we attempt to avoid responsibility, selfishly manipulate our parents, throw temper tantrums to get our way, and get what we want with the least amount of effort, then we are establishing a pattern of behavior that will ultimately lead to failure. Having learned from experience, our parents attempt to teach us the long-term consequences of such behavioral patterns, which are not in our best interests. Sometimes we listen and learn. And sometimes we don't.
Armed with our storehouse of wisdom, we are thrust upon the school system. Their job is to teach us the skills for success. The problem is we've already perfected many of the skills for failure! So teachers have the dual challenge of helping us unlearn our pattern of failure and simultaneously teaching us skills for success; such as honesty, hard work, sharing, and most of all, how to get along with others. You can understand why our school system is in such a mess today. Not primarily because of teachers or the system but because of our preconditioning before we even enter the hallowed halls of learning.
The Rules for Failure (The Rules) are reinforced through competition for grades, participation in cliques, and the general acceptance and glorification of antisocial behavior. The Rules appear to be such an ingrained part of life that by the time we enter the world of work we use them without a second thought. They become such a natural part of our day-to-day behavior that we are honestly surprised when someone calls attention to the fact that gossip is injurious to others, that hoarding information undermines productivity, or resistance to new learning is the quickest way to put the organization out of business - and ourselves out of a job.
The Rules are so socially acceptable that being a proponent for success is almost a radical idea. In practice, The Rules appear to be innocent and well-meaning, but in fact are personally self-serving. Let's get started with our examination of how The Rules are used in "real life" situations. We warn you in advance, we will use "tongue in cheek" comments to keep the conversations and the stories humorous. The ultimate objective is to reassess the long-term value of The Rules for Failure and learn how to transform them into The Rules for Success.