I have a collection of simple rules that I tried to remember and apply most of the time. Today I want to add a new rule to that list. Somewhat not related, but then again, related:

13. Forget all the above rules. Remain fluid.

Many years ago, I learned that in order to be able to perform and execute at a higher level, you needed to be able to adapt and be flexible. This was key to not crashing when the real world collided with your sterile plan. As we all know, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, so it is important to remain fluid. Yes, follow the rules when it’s necessary, and yes, put them aside and adapt to the reality on the ground, when things begin to unravel.

Lately, maybe because I’m getting older, or maybe simply more people are just not willing to make an effort and think for a change, I’ve been noticing an increased level of plain stupidity and what I call “rulebook blind following”, where people follow a set of pre-programmed steps to [insert your activity here], and if anything deviates from the norm, they either stupidly and blindly continue to follow that rulebook, or simple freeze and nothing gets done.

It’s infuriating. More so, because sometimes you are at the mercy of these zombies, and there is nothing you can do. That’s how modern society works and it’s getting worse by the minute.

I work in a profession that, when you follow the rulebook blindly, you get rewarded with a “you are certified” stamp. This is wrong is so many levels that it’s the reason most security breaches and problems happen. People forget to think. People forget to adapt, to remain fluid, and in doing so, bad things happen. And they look perplexed when it does, asking themselves: “but I followed the rules, how come this happened….?”.

Rule 13 is here to make you stop. Stop one second. Stop, look around, make a call. But make a call based on what you are seeing on the ground, on what people are telling you, on the information you have collected. Once there, you can decide if the rulebook still applies, and follow it - a good rulebook is meant to be followed, as are standard operating procedures (SOPs) - but, if you see the rulebook doesn’t adapt to the reality you are seeing, well, discard it. Adapt, and follow a different set of SOPs.

At the end of the day, it’s about thinking. Think.

Rule 13. Think.