Rules are made to be broken

Lots of things annoy me – my hubbie and my kids will tell you that.  I was once told I have a high “sense of justice” and I guess that’s true.  When I see something that is unfair, I want to get on my soapbox and espouse unto the world…. however, taking action is far better than just railing against the injustice of systems.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about “rules” and how others perceive them.

We are in a long and unending discussion with our Mortgage provider.  I won’t go into details but suffice to say that we’re paying somewhere between 4% and 6% more on our mortgage than “standard” rates.  This happened due to a combination of events and we’re now looking at options.  We submitted paperwork, to our provider, back in February requesting assistance on the matter and have heard nothing.  We’ve already taken independant action about this but on Thursday, I received a phone call from our latest “account manager” and finally asked what the status of our request was.  This person stated they were unaware of the paperwork and had to look it up, which they did. Their only update was the information we had been given in February when we lodged the paperwork. So here we are 5 months later (paperwork was lodged at the end of February) and they’ve done nothing.  When I asked why nothing had been done, the person got mildly aggressive and blamed me for “not listening”.  Good luck to them, we’ll be taking our complaint through the various regulatory bodies and seeking mediation and resolution.

It’s funny that when you decide to “stand up for yourself” and “speak out”, people get defensive (or aggressive) and turn the blame back to you.  Well, I won’t stand for it – they put us through hoops in order to lodge the paperwork and then promptly did nothing with it.  That’s their issue – it’s not up to me to run their process and I’m well within my rights to not only ask the status but to demand an explanation of where the delay is.

Moving on…

You don't learn to walk by following rulesBlind obedience to the rules is something that has been grating on me for a long time.  As a business owner, I have processes.  Those processes are designed to help us, help our clients more effectively and when those processes don’t work, we review them.  There’s also an understanding that processes are (sometimes) designed to be ‘ignored’ to get a job done.  It’s a really fine balance and, as a business leader, I need to be on top this ALL OF THE TIME.

I get agitated when systems and processes obviously don’t work – and the answer you get is “that’s the system and we can’t do anything about it”.  What a load of crock – OF COURSE YOU CAN.  A process is only as good as the people implementing it – you should be providing feedback and making suggestions on how to improve it.  Living with a broken system because “that’s the just the way it is” is totally unacceptable.

As many of my readers know, I’m passionate about helping youngsters (particularly my own youngsters) in doing “more” with their life.  We have rules in our society that define what is and isn’t ‘the norm’ for children to do based on their age.

  • Morgan found it hard at school because lessons were just so boring – he couldn’t understand why he had to sit  for 4 to 6 hours a day in a classroom and ‘be lectured at’ when he made far more progress by doing something.
  • Rhi was bored and disenchanted in school. She was ‘dumbing herself down’ to fit in with her peer group (don’t get me wrong, some of her peers were brilliant, but the norm for the year was to not appear clever) and was starting to experience self esteem issues associated with this behaviour.

In both cases, Stu and I sought out alternatives to help the kids achieve their potential and combat (yes, combat) the issues they were experiencing.  We had to step outside the “rules” that were in place and find other answers – and we did.

  • Both children started a School Based Apprenticeship in Year 10 – which at the time was nearly unheard of.  We had to ‘break some rules’ to get them approved… 
  • Rhi moved on to an accelerated learning program which completely changed her perspective.

We were fortunate to find a group of teachers who were prepared to help us challenge the status quo and work together to help our young people achieve.

This week, I find that we are challenged yet again with another of these “rules” that limits participation due to age – no, you’re not old enough to attend this course… My question is WHY NOT?  The course is not dependant on physical ability (and if it was, age is not a determining factor), the only “legal” complication is being able to enter into a contract which can be done with myself or their dad as a proxy… it just doesn’t make sense.  Why on earth would you take a willing and eager participant and turn them away?   Of course, the flip side of that coin is that “you’re too old” for this course (or job) and that’s just as bad and subject of a whole other discussion…

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.
Richard Branson

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