Ways to distinguish yourself #152 – Re-visit your undocumented rules at regular intervals

Programming languages have syntax and rules. With the right design in place, following the syntax and rules will get us the desired results. Which is fine but trying to extend that to life may not work all the time. Simple reason – in life you are dealing with people and people are very different from machines. They have emotions, moods, they have their good and bad days. Machines don’t have a lot of concerns. You maintain them nicely (and don’t abuse them) and you should be fine. They provide predictable results. Being in the technology world may tempt us to “decode” life and understand it in terms of syntax and rules. The idea is that once you decode it, you can keep re-using those rules to get superior results.

This approach (even if it works) has a very short life. What works today won’t work tomorrow. There are smart people out there and they know that a large majority of people are applying some basic rules for their decision making. Hence they exploit this behaviour for their advantage. Here are some examples:

1. You buy a song based on rating of the song

Check: Did you see the rating was based on how many votes?

2. You buy a book based on its appearance on the bestseller list

Check: Do you know how a book can get into the bestseller list? While most books on the bestseller list may be good, there is no guarantee as you can pay to structure a program to accelerate a book’s journey into the bestseller list

3. You normally don’t forgive someone’s mistake.

Check: If you had committed the same mistake before and you see that someone else is committing the same mistake, would your outlook towards that mistake change?

4. You trust the conclusions based on the survey results

Check: Do you continue to trust those conclusions after you look at the sampling size and the details of the participants that participated in the survey?

We all have undocumented rules in our lives. These rules play a big part when making decisions. While it is good to have simple rules for simple things (where consequences of our decisions won’t have a far-reaching impact) blindly following the rules may not be a good idea when it comes to decisions that matter most to us – be it in life, career, relationships or anything that matters most.

When is a good time to revisit your undocumented rules?

a) When you think your current rules are not yielding the results that you want from your life

b) When you think your current rules will create a problem in the future

in other words, you don’t have a chance but to revisit your rules at regular intervals.