Kindly Remember Rule Number 6

“It’s really very simple. Rule Number 6 is ‘Don't take yourself so seriously.’’ 

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: "Peter," he says, "kindly remember Rule Number 6" whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: "Marie, please remember Rule Number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: "My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?" "Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so g-damn seriously.'" "Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?" "There aren't any." 

 "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?" "There aren't any." 

This story is taken from the 79th page of the book ‘’Art of Possibility’’ co-authored by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. You can watch it from Ben’s own words by clicking on the below link. 

And in case you wonder who Benjamin Zander is: 

And his TED talk that was viewed more than 10 milllion times is just here: 

‘’Art of Possibility’’ is full of very useful leadership advice that can be easily put to practice. In fact even the chapters of the book are called ‘’Practices’’. 6th chapter is reserved to rule number 6: ‘’Don’t take yourself so seriously’’ 

This practice is not only about avoiding to be too much ego-centric. It is also about humor, about lightening up. Remember the times how cracking a joke all of a sudden changes the atmosphere in a tense meeting or a boss making good fun of herself or himself changes the way you approach your job. Let’s read what Ben has to say about this: 

‘’Humor and laughter are perhaps the best way we can get over ourselves. Humor can bring us together.’’ 

And the fact that this rule is numbered 6 although there are no other rules is a testament to the power of humor. That is in fact the most memorable part of the story. 

I am sure lots of managers, bosses will readily buy into this rule and will assume that they are in fact not taking themselves seriously, at least on the paper. But where is the proof to that? How can you prove the non-existence of something? Well in this case, with presence of humor. The moment as a boss for example you can mock your own-self without fearing loss of so called authorityor charisma, then you will really show that you are following the Rule Number 6. 

Ben Zander again: 

‘’ When one person peels away layers of opinion, entitlement, pride and inflated self-description, others instantly feel the connection. As one person has the grace to practice the secret of Rule Number 6, others often follow.’’ 

In short, the learning I noted down in my 9th year as a corporate citizen was: 

‘’ Don’t take yourself too seriously. Adding humor to your business life does not mean that you are not taking your job seriously. On the contrary, the atmosphere of cooperation it creates enables us to realize our shared dreams’’ 

Next Article: Learning number 19: ‘’The ability to always stay as an apprentice is the greatest mastery of all’’.