Thursday, December 4, 2014

A “Rule-less” Mind

The mindset (perspectives) is the consequence of "rules."

 There is good rules and bad rules, visible rules and hidden rules, local rules or global rules; some rule or laws we have to follow to be a good citizen in the nation or the fine resident on the earth. However, it is not every rule being created equally. More often,  the more we make or live by rules (made by silo mind or negative culture), the more we are like to take on sides of a story rather than more easily see all sides of the story. So, if we wish to be seeing more works using systemic thinking, we would need to work reducing our penchant need for living by rules. But if we do not live by rules, what do we live by, though, and what is the advantage for cultivating a "ruleless” mind?

Values are the starting point. Personal values, corporate values, societal values. You don’t need to be a restrict religious person to have values, just like you don’t have to have a certificate to prove you have certain talent or skills. There is common value across the culture and across the geographical boundaries. Rules are mostly invented by people who want to push their own rules to maintain their status quo in a non-win-win situation. Rules are needed in environments where there are not enough consensuses on common values.  Democracy is supposed to find rules that are a good compromise between different value systems. By having the common value, it ultimately comes down to the individual's/group's ability to release ego (my story, my rules, my way) to make room for a collective, or the organizational level value to articulate its truth--the mission for which it was created. These values are based on the collective human wisdom and culture quintessential. 

Too many rigid procedures or hidden rules will stifle creativity and free thinking. In fact, by learning to live less by rules, we would see a fundamental and dramatic shift in life as we know it. Take for example, the roles in the workplace, if each function didn't have its own set of rules and behaviors by which it abides by, but with the common corporate principles everyone voluntarily follows, the working place without too much rigid procedures or hidden rules will encourage more free-thinking, true talent discovery, creativity, diversity of thought and colors of character. When the organization only rewards the rule followers, not innovators, the old rule breakers, more often, they only focus on short term result, not long term vision. Fewer rules would allow more for an environment of creativity, spontaneity, and effectiveness between functions - true systematic thinking becomes the "mainstream" thinking in the organization.

Replace the operative word "rules" with principles or 'expectations' that allow thinking room: But if we do not live by rules, what do we live by. By our own inherent 'principles' as opposed to man-made imposed ones. Our instincts guide us to make decisions so there's already a set of rules per se in each of us that we either listen to and follow or choose to ignore. Rules are used to short circuit or take the place of values or intentions because these essentially spiritual decision-characteristics have to be discerned, aligned, articulated to meet the needs of the moment (tactical execution) and, more importantly, the needs of the organization (what serves our vision, our mission, our collective identity...who do we want to be and does this decision articulate that?) It's hard and it requires a psychological and emotional maturity. For example: 
RULE: red light~ stop; green light ~ go. Principle/Expectation: cross the street safely. Applying this thinking is a pathway for opening minds to connected, creative considerations.

It's easier to think about intentions rather than "rules" - when we act, we should examine our internal self, our intentions in our actions to determine whether the action is one we should take or one we should think about more before acting. Rather than being ruled by rules, perhaps we should be ruled by intentions. You voluntarily follow because they make sense, and you want to follow them, so you intend to follow them. Some rules don't make sense or stop people from making progress, so that's the point where you must examine your own intentions - break the rule, follow the rule, ignore the rule? What's important is your own understanding of your intentions. But in spaces where neither those internal intentions nor outward expressions of expectations and therefore actions by others are understood consciously. Rules (and therefore the accompanying rewards and punishments) become an easy substitute for the judicious "running of the lives of others" (from one's perspective) and therefore by others to others in turn. It becomes a vicious web of rules, judgment, and application of corrections to the actions.

The classical Taoism: "A rule that can be known is not the Rule." The nature rule is timeless and makes us feel humbled. But human’s rule can be out of date once a while, from maintaining the certain order of the tribes to stifling the societal progress, hence, the known rules need to be updated to push the human society forward, and only the rule-less mind can become such game changer.


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