May 30, 2024

How to Break Free

Remember when Coke cost a nickel? American cars had big tail fins? VHS was the way to watch movies at home and telephones sat on tables—and had dials? It all changed. We accept that things change. We don’t go berserk about cell phones or small cars. So why do we have such a problem when a rule we internalized back in 1975, like “You must clean your plate,” isn’t working anymore? There are some rules that need breaking, but doing it is hard, unless you understand where they come from and know how to free yourself.

I’m 65. I can still hear Mom nattering at me. “Clean your plate. Think of the starving Chinese.” But if I still considered that a rule—and part of me does—I would weigh 300 pounds. Things have changed.

The main contributor to frustration and struggle in our lives is related to things not going the way we expected or not behaving the way we were taught they should behave. When things don’t go according to our rules, watch out.

When did we learn those rules? Probably between the ages of two and six. That’s certainly when I was ordered to clean my plate. I also learned that people with money were not to be trusted, and that I was and always would be supremely lazy. See the crap our parents lay on us? What’s yours?

If I decide to take an afternoon off and maybe go to the zoo with my granddaughter, I can still hear good ol’ Mom whipping me with her “lazy” admonition. And I truly have to be totally present to leave anything on a plate or to use the “two-bite” rule a good friend told me about. (Two bites of anything, no matter how sinful, is allowed. Leave the rest!)

The challenge is to figure out which of the rules that were set when telephones still hung on a wall and had dials aren’t working for you today, and then decide to rewrite them with today’s data in mind.

Sticking to Old Rules Can Leave You in the Dark

The Kodak Company has made cameras and film since 1888. It has employed as many as 60,000 in the town of Rochester, New York, alone.

The rule was that everyone wants to take and carry around pictures, and it was true. It still is. But the rule at Kodak included the concept that the way to do that was on hard paper using silver photographic processing. And things changed.

Consumers stopped agreeing with Kodak’s rule, and the market shrank. Kodak ignored the reality of digital imaging, staying its prescribed course (written by its rules) and lost 80% of its value. Today it is a shadow of its former glory, employing less than 6,000 while it struggles to compete in the digital printing arena and stay out of bankruptcy.

Kodak didn’t decide to do anything until it was too late. It just kept doing what it has been doing since 1888. But nothing was the same. It was a fantasy to think that the film photography market would stay static.

It’s also a fantasy to believe that the conditions that spawned your rules are the same today as they were way back when.

Nothing’s the same. Not as 50 years ago, not even as last week. The rules that used to describe life don’t anymore. So our adherence to them will most likely not take us where we want to go.

We need to decide to observe the data…today….right now…this moment. Then we decide how to respond. That way, you’re not operating out of your Knower/Judger’s past, which only leads to frustration and struggle.

It all starts with a decision. You can rock your world if you’ll look at the data and decide that your old rules don’t work anymore. The choice is yours. A decision or a reaction. Digital images or Kodachrome.


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