Sync logo

Sync 100: e-bulletin January 2010


Rules of the Game

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. (Katharine Hepburn)

a bird sitting on a no birds here sign

January, for many of us, feels like wading through toffee, as we battle the elements, wrestle with our tax returns and contemplate the rules and resolutions we have set ourselves for a better year ahead.

Take heart, January is nearly over, and Sync Leadership has some fine times and opportunities up for grabs, so spread your wings and fly straight to the blog on the website and look at Sync Intensives - our leadership learning programme with one to one coaching built in. Applications are open to all Sync members and for ease and speed you can apply by email - deadline is the end of February.

We're delighted to be able to extend the deadline for our Leading in London Placements for opportunities at Whitechapel Gallery and with Unlimited. There's also a Sync Networking Event planned for February in Bristol at the Arnolfini. Again, see the website for details on both of these.

This month's article focuses on rethinking the rules in our rulebook. What rules do we abide by and what do they mean to us? Are they useful or not and who do they belong to?

We might find that we can, as Robin Williams tells his students in the film Dead Poet's Society, 'tear a page out of your book right now.' particularly if we find that some of what's written on the page doesn't make sense to us anymore.

Go straight to the Sync website for more info on the opportunities available

Whose Rules?

Hell, there are no rules here, we are trying to accomplish something. (Thomas A Edison)

An image of broken windows

Are you someone who tears up the rule book as a matter of course, or are you someone who finds rules and regulations an important part of who and how you are at work?

We might not keep to our New Year's resolutions, but the rules that govern us overall are more subtle, influenced by cultural conditioning, our experiences and those of others.

In the spirit of Edison, it's true that some of these rules may be holding us back, stopping us accomplishing what we want. With all those unwritten rules, perhaps we should check up on where they come from and why they are in our rule book in the first place.

Rules are a really important means by which we construct order and get justice. The bottom line is that rules can be useful if they support us to make the most of our strengths and to shine, but if they put us into a stereotypical mould of 'angry, bitter, not up to it and hard done by', then this might not be so useful.

What do you think?

Go straight to the article Rules of the Game

Rule Breakers

One of the things that made Ian Dury great was his lyrics.These rhymes shouldn’t work, but they do. Some of them are 'bad English', some of the words aren’t even real words, but they work! He ignores the rules and gets away with it. (Dave Trott, Creative Mischief)

Tom Mauger

Our case study this month is a filmed interview with Tom Mauger, lead singer from Babyhead, a Bristol based ska funk band of fine repute!

Tom admits to having been a serial rule breaker in the past, but he only ever broke rules that made no sense to him, primarily at school where he felt he wasn't respected because he didn't excel.

As for disability, Tom sits very much outside the disability movement himself, but works extensively with young disabled people in the south west alongside his band, Babyhead.

"It's not that I am uncomfortable with the label, it's just that my disability hasn't defined my experience to any great extent so far."

For Tom Ian Dury was, and still is, a significant role model, but more for how he played his 'raspberry rippledom' as 'just another prop in his toybox', than for a movement that he did or didn't represent.

Ian Dury was, as Tom says, "a singer first and a handsome bastard second" and of course, a consumate rule breaker in his new boots and panties!

Go straight to the filmed interview of Tom

Re-writing rules

I’ve often wondered, can I really be a leader if I haven’t got that physical energy, and sometimes I’m doing less hours than other senior staff. (Suzanne Bull, CEO Attitude is Everything)

Suzanne Bull

Sometimes re-writing other people's rules is no mean feat. That unspoken rule that says that in order to lead, you have to do 100 hours a week, for example.

So how do we break such rules? We might make our own rules about how we are going to conserve and spread our energy, time and resources as a start. This can be far more productive than worrying and putting ourselves under pressure because of someone else's point of view.

We can re-write other people's rule books about what leadership looks like by being clear about how we do things differently, not in fine detail, but as a matter of fact.

So why don't you map your energy, over the month ahead and see and feel the times when you are at your optimum or peak and make some new rules about how you are going to use this mapping to achieve more!

Youtube video of Babyhead performing...

Shovel your peas...

I was always told, like other children of my background and generation, not to use my fork as a shovel with which to pick up peas. I threw that one out long ago! (Adrian Gilpin, Chairman, IHD)

a photo of peas

So, to end this month, why don't you write some new rules for yourselves on your pages? Like Adrian quoted above, you can choose how to pick up your peas - do it your way!

To help you succeed - with rule setting and anything else you've set your mind to - we'd like to share a neat little film that a Sync member told us all about. It's on the 8 Secrets for Success and you can see it on

TED has a collection of presentations and has lots of inspirational stuff to enjoy and inspire you into February and there are text transcripts on the site too for every video. Why not have a browse? Do let us know if you find a gem we could all benefit from.

Sarah Pickthall

Sync Coaching

Richard St John's 8 Secrets of Success on TED

ADA inc logo    CUSP inc logo    People Create logo
Cultural Leadership logo

If you want to be removed from the mailing list please
email and put the word 'remove' in the subject line