When The Old Rules Don’t Apply


Much has been written about the “unprecedented” times in which we currently find ourselves. I’m guessing your email, like mine, is filled with invitations to webinars about how to navigate the unknowns, lead through uncertainty, and adapt to the new normal. The tone of these promotional efforts ranges from frantic (the sky is falling) to overly confident (our presenter has “the” answer to the challenges before you). Perhaps the one constant amid all of the messaging is this — the old rules no longer apply. If that idea makes you uneasy, here’s the up side: right now, you have a unique opportunity to re-write the rules.

How do you go about re-writing the rules?

  • Start with your values. Always. What does your organization stand for and how can you infuse that into the “new rules?” Do you want to be more empowering, collaborative, impactful, inclusive . . . What would it look like to highlight the best of your organization? Don’t tell me it’s not possible. You’re re-writing the rules.
  • Focus on the biggest pain point. What do you want to be different . . . for those you serve, for your organization, your community? What are the barriers to accomplishing your mission? As Winston Churchill noted, “Never waste a good crisis.” People are most open to considering a new way of doing things when it is clear that the old rules no longer apply.
  • Look at the situation with new eyes. Changing variables change perspectives. “Crazy ideas” that you might never have considered in the past may suddenly seem possible. “What if . . .” and “Why couldn’t we . . .” open doors to new opportunities while viewing challenges through the lens of the old rules keeps you stuck in the past.
  • Find your footing. One of the biggest challenges in unsettled times is that it feels like there are so many unknowns. There are . . . and wallowing in the uncertainty only makes it worse. Make a decision. Take a step. Course correct if you need to, and then keep going. Forward motion is always a stronger position than sitting on your heels waiting for the perfect solution to appear. And each step you take helps re-write the rules.
  • Lead. Quit waiting around for permission. The old rules no longer apply.

If you’re looking for clear answers, you’ll have to wait on someone to re-write the rules. For the rest of you, it’s time to step out and start writing.

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