There is a proven theory that when highly successful business men and women are confronted with a rule or convention that blocks their way, they tend to ignore it, circumnavigate it or simply break it. Very little seems to stand in their way. I have witnessed this at first hand many times, and during a recent tax inspection, I was reminded that perhaps I too (to a lesser extent) have a similar tendency.

There is a short story by Kafka called ‘Before the Law’ where a man wants to pass through a door to gain knowledge that he believes to be not only useful but also his right to know. But there is a gatekeeper next to the door, supposedly preventing him from entry. The gatekeeper tells him that he does not have permission to enter, so the man waits for days and years hoping that one day it will be granted to him.

As we have all observed, all babies and young children try to challenge authority (for example by throwing their rattle out of the pram, making Mum or Dad cross, and continuing until they either receive a smack or the rattle is taken away). In most cases, as people become older, the pressure to conform pacifies this tendency and only shows itself when they are confronted with unwanted change.

I find this topic useful to consider as it can largely explain one aspect of achieving success. How far are you prepared to break rules and conventions to achieve what you want?

It is no wonder why so many business leaders and politicians end up in trouble. It is not a coincidence that they tend to surround themselves with experienced advisors to get them out the mess that the side effects of ignoring the rules sometimes get them into.

As Oscar Wilde famously said in 1892: ‘Experience is simply the name everyone gives to their mistakes’. The only problem is, when highly successful people break a rule, it is only considered a mistake when it comes back to hit them and their desired end result is not achieved.

Have a good week,