5 Lessons I Learned from Breaking the Rules

Last week, I read the book, The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin. It was a quick, entertaining read and I gave it three stars on Goodreads; although, I kind of cheated and only read the part that described me. Why do I need to read the rest? And then I learned / affirmed that I respond to expectation through questioning. Are we sure about that? It also taught me that questioners can be crackpot theorists. So, there’s that. Which I did kind of wonder if the four tendencies were such a theory, because who is this Gretchen lady anyway? Right? (FYI – The other three tendencies are Upholders, Obligers, and Rebels.)

Well, over the weekend, my daughter’s school had a Fall Carnival to raise funds for the Parent Teacher Association. Thinking there might be a chance of rain, I opted to volunteer for an indoor game. During the last available shift of the day. Why mess up my whole day?

When I checked-in, I saw I was assigned to the game, ‘Put a Ring on It.’ Such a fancy name for ring toss. I smiled; and noticed the rings went over 2-liter bottles of soda. For elementary students? It was also one of the few activities that required more than just the entrance wrist band; it required a ticket. An additional investment from mom and dad’s wallet. A money-making station. How can I bring in the most cha-ching?

So, as the leaving volunteer was on his way out, he said the rules didn’t seem to be working. Kids weren’t playing, winning, or taking home those 2-liter bottles of soda. And, there were a lot of bottles to get rid of. I had two hours and my true to form, non-conformist ways about me. I placed the rules in the bucket and turned my back on them.

By questioning the rules, I learned five things that helped me this week. They helped me keep my chin up as I continue to search for the right job and the place I feel accepted; where I belong in my new city. By watching the kids play the game with my adjusted rules, I learned the necessity to:

  • Go after what you want. The rule was the player had to take the 2-liter they ringed. Well, many of the kids didn’t want to invest one of their tickets if they had to leave so much to luck. Once I told them they could choose whatever flavor of soda they wanted, they had motivation. They felt more in control of the situation.
  • Focus. With their eye on the prize, they honed in their hand-eye coordination skills. They lined up, ready to throw. They had five bottles, four rings. The odds were in their favor.
  • Adjust. When the ring didn’t land where they wanted, they applied their motor skills in a new way. I offered constructive feedback and they accepted it to try a new tactic.
  • Try, try again. With a little positive reinforcement, these kids became more and more determined. Some even invested up to 10 tickets to win.
  • It’s okay to walk away. Invest wisely. Is that bottle of soda really worth it? If so, keep going. But if not, be willing to walk away. For example, with the littlest ones, the marker to throw from was way too challenging and their parents didn’t want them to win a huge amount of soda. They moved on to the next game.

Essentially, this little game of ring toss reminded me why it’s important to stay to true character. Just because I haven’t found the place that will accept my inquisitive nature as an asset, doesn’t mean the job doesn’t exist. There are lots of other games / opportunities out there. And right now I feel like it’s worth it to keep looking. I’ve invested a lot of time and effort to become a writer and I am not willing to walk away just yet. Finding the ‘perfect’ job that pays me to do what I love to do may be a crackpot theory, but that’s okay. I love that part about me.

Until next time –

Simply live,


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