Breaking Rules for Fun and Profit: Intelligent Misbehavior with Rick Lewis

Intelligent Misbehaver Rick Lewis juggles a lifetime of work wisdom into a compact 132 pages of pure learning and fun. The professional street performer, comedian and speaker shares from personal experience in 7 Rules You Were Born to Break: How Intelligent Misbehavior Can Help You and Your Organization Thrive. Rick directly takes on seven hidden rules that govern our culture, and exposes them as obstructive potential-killers. Since unnecessarily limiting potential impedes effective self-management, his insights offer a bold prescription for driving leadership and innovation in a fast-moving, interdependent ecosystem.

For each rule to be broken, he summarizes the rule, the intelligent misbehavior that counters the rule, and the benefit of breaking the rule. His seventh cultural rule to break is Be Popular. While this might be a tough sell for junior high school students, it makes a lot of sense for most people in organizations. The associated misbehavior is to Follow a Vision, implying that it is likely that actually following a vision may not always be the popular thing to do. The benefit of breaking this cultural rule is to achieve a state of integrity, which leads to purpose, effectiveness and clarity. And probably to a lot of other good things as well. As Rick notes later in the book, there is a lot of money spent on marketing stuff that we think will make us more socially popular. The ramifications of breaking this rule aren’t trivial: simply changing the lens through which we view the rule could produce vast individual and social consequences. If one of those consequences is a more engaged, motivated, initiative-taking cohort of professional self-managers, that possibility would seem to be worth investigating.

Rick weaves personal anecdotes into the discussion; some funny, some very moving. In every case, his stories powerfully illustrate his points. Losing one’s shorts in the middle of a juggling routine to a revenge-seeking volunteer taught Rick the value of staying connected and responsive to his volunteers—even if only for the duration of a single performance (relating to his sixth rule to break: Stay in Control!). Relinquishing the need for control in order to stay responsive and connected, coincidentally, is the sine qua non of effective self-management—it consists of focused engagement with one’s peers at a high level of awareness. It could even be considered a core competency of effective self-management.

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