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Submitted by mattjd on


While visiting the Shrine of Saint Katherine Drexel with my four kids last week, I had the pleasure of meeting an old nun that lived with Saint Drexel for a few years back in the early 1950s.

She told me a story about the Saint being a stickler for the rules but very compassionate and caring with everyone.  She would bring a piece of paper to measure the amount of space between the eyebrows and the veil.  

The nun told me that Saint Katherine believed that if a rule was written down, it was important and needed to be followed.  It was important for the leaders of the group to enforce them all and hold people accountable if they didn't follow them.  Nuns are bound by a vow of obedience which makes rule following a little easier than today's corporate environment.  This wasn't up for discussion in the convent.  

If the rules were followed, there was an abundance of compassion and caring available but the message remained, follow the rules.

This discussion has been resonating with me all week and I continue to search for ways to use this in my management of others.  As a High I, I am not a rule follower. It is something that I need to continue to grow more towards rather than my default operating system which doesn't serve me well in my career at time.  I sometimes want to bend rules to help others and that probably isn't the most helpful path in many situations.  Follow the rules, like everyone must do, and have caring for the problems this sometimes creates.

naraa's picture
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 I did my DISC profile a while ago and I found out I am a lot D and a little less, but still a lot high I.  It was a mind opener for me.   I agree with your comment there regarding following rules I also have to discipline myself to follow rules.  More recently I actually found out that following rules is actually easier than not following them.  There is less to think about and debate with your self and others when rules are followed.  

I do think there are a lot of rules out there though that have already served their purpose and need to be change.  Once we were discussing in the company about a procedure and I was saying that it had to change.  Somebody told me that we had to look into why that procedure was there and we could not just change it.  I had made the procedure years before, it had served its purpose then, but but right now it had to change.  Even I was in no agreement with the procedure anymore but it wouldn´t be changed just because.... So, yes, rules are important but it also important to review them every so often and establish the new rules.

I heard, I don´t know if is exactly true, please someone correct me if I am wrong, that the problem of the nuclear stations in Japan happened precisely because they follow the rules.  The energy generators were placed underground where they are supposed to be placed a per procedure but nobody ever thought about what would happen if the place got flooded and whether it would not be better to place them elsewhere.

So I would say yes, follow the rules, don´t bent them, but do revise them every so often. And when doing the revision, don´t look as much to the past but to the present and the future of what the purpose of the rule really is.  I have lived in 4 countries, and there are different rules, especially unwritten rules, in each one of them, and I really wish I could keep the best rules out of each place and eliminate the worst ones!  The world would be a better place.  Luckily we are indeed going into that direction, some one or another.