Questioning Reality - Following Rules vs. Following Your Heart


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I was watching the animated film Chicken Run with my daughter a couple of weeks back - if you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth a rental, especially if you're into a send up of old concentration-camp-breakout movies.

Anyway, Ginger, leader of the fowl breakout plot, rallies her fellow would-be escapees by crying, “You know what the problem is? The fences aren't just round the farm. They're up here, in your heads. "

It's a line that struck me, while a bit of a cliché, still worthy of a second look. The truth is that we go through our lives making up all kinds of things about the way the world is, creating patterns and rules. This in itself isn't a bad thing, but it can be limiting when those patterns become fences.

Take for example, the earth itself. For a gazillion years, most people believed the earth was flat, and that if you sailed to the horizon, you'd fall off. You would have been called a lunatic if you had tried to tell people that the earth was a big ball. I wonder how many ocean expeditions never happened because of one simple mental fence that everyone bought into.

What about other fences brought on by societal pressures? You know the traditional recipe for happiness: do well in school, go to college so you can get a good job, get married, buy a house, have 2.1 kids, retire and move to Florida. If you did well enough you can have a yacht as a bonus.

I'm not saying that that formula is bad, but it becomes a fence when it's the rule, rather than what's really in your heart. The real problem is that it lacks the magic ingredient to making life what you want: Imagination.

The way I see it, there are only a few true rules, and the challenge in life is to find out what they are and discard the rest. Here are the rules I've come up with for my reality.

Rule 1: Because you live in your body, you must get food, water, air, and shelter or you will die.

Rule 2: You live in a society with other people (unless you've become a hermit, in which case you're not reading this and it doesn't apply to you).

Rule 3: You can control yourself, including your thoughts, emotions, and actions (this might take practice but it's possible). Everything and everyone else are out of your control.

Rule 4: You have free will and are therefore condemned to choosing every moment of every day. As our friends Nietsche and the band Rush said, “Even if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. "

Rule 5: You possess the most powerful force in the universe: Imagination.

That's it. No more rules. No more fences except those you've created in your mind. Beyond these five, the world is a blank story book, waiting to be written.

Isn't that cool?

There are more rules you say? Like what, that humans can't fly? Imagination gave us the airplane and hang-glider. That we can't breathe underwater? Imagination gave us scuba gear. That there's no cure for cancer? That poverty must kill millions every year? That war is inevitable? I have great hope for these things because some of the greatest imaginations in the world are working on them.

Because of Rule 5, anything is possible. Figuring out how to get what you imagine into the real world is simply a matter of time.

So what are some of the unnecessary fences you have put up? Write them down, and like Ginger and her fellow hens flying the coop, use your imagination to change the impossible into reality.

Robin Jones is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and author of “Success, The Ezine. ” Robin is dedicated to helping others discover new ways of doing things so they move powerfully forward in their career and life. To schedule a free introductory session, contact robin at or visit his website .


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