Bending the rules

We are all subject to the pitfalls of “this time will be different”.

Sometimes ago, I was listening to a podcast featuring Guy Kawasaki. Guy promotes a pretty interesting and well known framework for presentations – the 10/20/30 rule. That is to say 10 slides, in 20 minutes, with text on the slides set at a minimum of 30 points.

Despite people knowing about his “rule”, he was amazed by the fact they were still pitching ideas to him with presentations that did not respect any of those precepts. When the host asked why he thought that happened, he said that people always tend to think that the rule does not apply to them: “Sure, I know about the rule, but that does not apply to me. My idea is the most interesting, what I have to say is incredibly powerful, my insights are superb. This time will be different, I promise.”

It turns out, it almost never is.

A slightly different version of the pitfall is “this time alone”.

Working with start-ups, I have often heard the mantra: “this is not who we are, we’ll do it this time alone, and when things will start getting traction, we’ll finally be able to act the way we really, deeply, sincerely are”. Of course, if you are eventually lucky enough to get some traction, you’ll have forgotten and most likely shit on how you really, deeply, sincerely are. No reason to go about searching for excuses.

Some rules are set for you, some you get to set.

I am not promoting absolute obedience and compliance, yet we should be aware of these traps and be completely honest about a fact. When we start bending the rules, chances are we are starting to bend ourselves as well. We ought to make sure we are doing that in a direction we’ll feel confident and proud about the morning after.

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