Friday, October 15, 2010

There are rules—deal with it or lose: Law #1

Most people, no matter their age, refuse to accept this rule. I hear it all the time, “I shouldn’t have to ...” or,  “It’s not fair ...” To which I say, “Deal with it or lose!”

The fact is that life is a game. Like any game, life has rules. Unlike most games, the game of life has hidden rules. You need to get your head around this fact, or life will eat you alive. 

What Law #1 teaches us is that every situation you encounter has rules. They happen with or without your knowledge. Without your approval. And either way, life’s rules influence you everyday. 

When you walk into Mr. Monotone’s fifth period history class there are rules that you need to deal with. No one asked if you wanted to play by these rules, you’re just stuck with them. You are just expected to follow them. In addition, all situations have socially “known rules” and “secret rules” that must be figured out. 

It is your responsibility to figure out the rules for any given situation and use this information to your best interest. That’s right. The reason you need to figure out the rules is so that you can get your needs met. Get what you want and avoid what you don’t want so you can win at this game called life!

I want you to notice that I am not embarrassed by this level of selfishness. In fact, I pity those that don’t figure out what is going on and constantly bash their thick heads against life’s walls. It is your responsibility, to yourself, to learn how to deal with your world. 

Socially known rules, such as the classroom rules in Mr. Monotone’s class, are usually easy to find. Mr. Monotone probably droned on and on the very first day, boring you to death about his “classroom rules.” My assumption is that by now you know the basic classroom rules and Mr. Monotone is as informative as the flight attendant who stands in the front of the cabin and instructs you on how to put on or take off a seat belt. What’s with that? I would think that 99.99% of the airline passengers drove to the airport. Didn’t they use their seat belts? I guess that the airlines believe that if you’re willing to pay hundreds of dollars to cram your tush into a narrow airline seat, you’re probably not smart enough to understand the mechanical physics of a common seat belt.

Law #1 is about the “secret rules” of dealing with Mr. Monotone. You need to know about these secret rules to navigate Mr. Monotone’s class. It is important that you figure out how to deal with Mr. Monotone and use this knowledge to get your needs met. 

Let’s look at how this might work. During the first half hour of the first class you check out the lay of the land. You realize that even though Mr. Monotone said, “If you have any questions you must raise your hand.” He left out the secret rule that reads: “I’m really tired of you smarty-pants kids. After twenty-two years of teaching I have figured out what I need to teach, and if you simply pay attention I’ll tell you what I expect you to regurgitate on your test.” How did you figure out this secret rule? You watched. When Betty Brownnose, sitting up front all perky like, asked a question, Mr. Monotone sarcastically let her know that he thought he clearly covered that already. He made it clear to all who were watching that his words said “ask questions” but he didn’t really want to be bothered with answering them.

Is this fair? Absolutely not. Is it something you need to deal with? You betcha! This teaching drone holds your grade in his left hand. If he squeezes, your voice changes. When the principal comes by, you wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Monotone perked up and became Mr. Stereo. He knows the secret rules that he learned from watching principals. He probably learned to leave his classroom rules out so that the principal could “accidentally” spy them. He learned it’s a good idea to have a clear rule that encourages one’s students to ask questions. He learned that as long as he gives lip service to the principal, the principal won’t care that Mr. Monotone is actually discouraging questions in the privacy of his classroom domain. Adults live in the same world teens live in. Smart adults know that Law #1 is powerful.

Excerpted from my book: Life's Laws for New Adults

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