You Shouldn’t Break The Rules

“The rules are meant to be broken. “

How many times have you heard this phrase? Probably more times than you’d care to hear it. You may have heard it so much that it is drilled into your head and you think it’s something you have to do. This approach is compounded by the fact that successful people spout this same phrase.

So why am I suggesting something to the contrary? Well, it’s because there are some huge gaping holes in this philosophy.

So, want to know the real secret to breaking the rules?

Understanding The Rules

The dirty little secret that nobody tells you is that you have to understand the rules first before you can even begin to think about breaking them.

When you see a successful person breaking the rules don’t skip over the enormous effort they have made to master their craft. They broke the rules because they understood them so thoroughly that they knew where loopholes were. This is the secret to breaking the rules.

What got me thinking about this is I have been doing a bit of creative writing lately, and it’s a place where you can take creative liberties just like in most arts. There are many rules for writers that would be easy just to gloss over. If you want your writing to be clear and compelling then, you should be following the rules instead of breaking them. I started to draw this contrast with music and audio engineering. The more I thought about this concept, the more it made sense.

Rules are rules for a reason. It’s because they are proven and they work. The modern-day impatience of wanting to be a superstar on the first day will not serve you well here. Take the time and understand the rules. Work with them and within them. Don’t add that 2-minute kazoo solo to your death metal track for the sake of rulebreaking. Congrats on breaking the rules, but I’m not entirely sure they are broken the way you want to.

People will use the guise of rule-breaking as an excuse and won’t take the time to understand the rules or the basics of their craft.

The Basics

The basics, nobody likes them, and nobody thinks they need them. More often than not, people need more of the basics and not less. I don’t know why the basics aren’t seen as being cool or even important. Basics are what prop you up and help you build a solid foundation. Mastering the basics will make your more successful than someone who hasn’t taken the time to understand them.

Here is another secret. If appropriately applied, the basics may be all you need.

The basics are an area where content creators cause more harm than good. It’s part of what I call the Content Creator Conundrum. Content creators will often create tutorials on how to perform a specialized technique because it gets them hits or they’ve run out of ideas for other tutorials. Even though in many cases the person putting the video together doesn’t understand the technique themselves. These special techniques, whatever they may be, are perceived as something everyone must be doing otherwise, why would they be making videos on it?

Many of your favorite old recordings that you like the sound of so much were done with minimal processors. Minimal outboard gear and simple console EQ and Compression printed to tape was all that was used. I know production techniques have changed and come a long way, but there is a theme here. Those recordings sound great because they mastered the basics and made every step of the production process count for something.

If you can’t make something good with the basics, you need to reevaluate your situation.

In audio engineering, solving issues the most simple manner is the best way to go. It will keep your processing to a minimum and will minimize unwanted artifacts from being detrimental to your audio. Oh, and minimization will save you CPU as well.

Rules are not Formulas

I think part of the problem is that people often mistake rules as formulas. So, for instance, a formula would be something like you need to get to the hook within the first 30 seconds of a song and the song should only be 3:30 seconds long. You can replace this with a proven chord structure or any of the other musical formulas out there.

Think of formulas like templates. Insert a certain amount of X and Y in the proper positions and success shoots out the other end.

Just keep in mind that these formulas came about because they’ve demonstrated a certain amount of success. Feel free not to follow formulas if you don’t want to, just don’t confuse them with the rules.

The Exception

If you truly want to be successful, then don’t think you are the exception to any rule.

There are always going to be a few people who are exceptions. They are naturals maybe even prodigies and their talent means that they don’t have to take the same path to greatness as the rest of us. Trust me, this isn’t you or me.

You know what, not being a prodigy doesn’t take anything away from us either. It just means we have to take a different approach and put in some additional work. It’s not the end of the world. I will say, be very careful when following advice from these type of people. The path they followed may be completely different than the path the rest of us have to take.

To think that somehow you are on the level of an exception is to your detriment. It means that you aren’t honest about where you are and where you need to be. Your roadmap will be headed in the wrong direction and you will never meet any expectations you have. Think long and hard about this.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this post has given you some food for thought. Don’t hate on the rules, master them. Learn to be the best you can be with them. It’s the only way you will see how the rules can be broken. It’s also one of the best ways to get ahead of your competition. While they are messing around bouncing all over the place you will be making steady progress and crushing your goals.

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