Why? Understanding leads to success.


There are always rules to be followed in life. Most rules were put in place by well-meaning people who felt that the rules were needed to right a wrong, protect from injury, or create agreement between two or more parties.

Over time, we can forget the wise words of Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”

I call the principles the “Why’s” behind the rules.

Without the wisdom of why the rules were made – understanding of the intent of the rules, and knowledge of when to apply the rules – we rely on the strict wording of the rules instead of the spirit of the rules.

Now, I am all for rules in the right circumstances. I like being confident that the car coming down the road isn’t going to keep driving right through the red light and hit my car broadside just as much as the next guy. But, many rules are not that simple.

No one can possibly think of every nuance when writing rules and we can be fooled into letting the rules rule our lives and stop using good judgment to make good decisions.

Without understanding the “Why’s” behind the rules, the individual settles on “Because I…”
Because I always follow the rules
Because I was taught to do it this way
Because I was told to do it this way
Because I don’t want to change the way I have always done it
Because I am not responsible for the outcome, just for following the rules
Because I am not the expert, someone else is

What can we do when we understand the “Why’s” behind the rules?
We can see the vision – It’s easier to be motivated to accomplish a grand vision then a task
We can support the vision – It’s easier to encourage others toward a common vision
We can successfully achieve the vision – It’s easier to get back on track when you see the big picture

Maybe a more apropos title for this article would have been – Do you follow the principles? The answer to that question would be: Not unless I know what they are.

3 Responses to Why? Understanding leads to success.
  1. Pagu

    Great Mr.McLaughlin!
    Worth a million dollars!

    • Denis G. McLaughlin

      Thank you Pagu, I appreciate your kind words.

  2. Marnie

    Denis this one is so timely, and a great reminder on how to convey new rules. This is definitely a print and post for daily review in January. Thank you!