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Insights: Rules for Success
June 01, 2011

Rules for Success

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"Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."

- Thomas Edison

Are you struggling to feel happiness and contentment in one or more important area of your life? Do you experience feelings of frustration, inadequacy or hopelessness?

If so, it could be down to the rules that you have set up that determine, for you, what it means to be successful in that area of your life.

Rules for every situation

This might sound strange at first but if you think about it, you'll realise that you have your own internal rules for success in pretty much every situation you come up against in life.

Let's take two examples:

Sue and Jared

Sue puts great value on a loving relationship and yet she has been struggling to find genuine romance in her life since her divorce, six years ago. Now, she has all but given up on finding a partner who will provide her with the love and affection she desires. She finds it difficult to shake off feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness about the future.

Jared's great love in life is football. He has great talent and dreams of turning professional. But despite his passion for the game he feels frustrated about his progress and is having doubts about his abilities that are making him question his dream and wonder whether to throw in the towel.

Victims of their own rules

In these examples, both Sue and Jared are unwittingly the victims of their own uncompromising rules for success.

Sue has a number of unwritten rules about loving relationships that are hampering her ability to feel happy:

"If I am to experience a loving relationship, then I must have a full time partner."

"If a man really loves me then he will call me at least three times a day."

"If someone I meet really likes me and wants to develop a relationship with me then he will tell me that I am really special."

Likewise, Jared:

"If I am as talented as people say, then I would have been offered a professional contract by now."

"If I am to be successful as a professional footballer then I have to give up everything else in my life and work harder at it."

"If I don't score at least one goal in every game I play this season, then I will never achieve my dream."

One thing in common

Take a look at these rules and you will notice they all have one thing in common.

They are all "If ... then" statements.

This is the typical way we humans tend to craft rules that govern whether or not we deem ourselves to be successful or not. We make our happiness dependent on some unlikely event or someone else's actions.

Another thing you'll notice is how ridiculously difficult both Sue and Jared have made it to feel successful - and thus happy and contented - about these areas of life that mean so much to them.

Good news

Here's the good news ...

Simply by taking stock of what your rules are for feeling success (whether that be in a loving relationship, in professional football or in anything else for that matter) and 're-engineering' those rules, you can immediately start to feel happy, joyful and upbeat again.

Sue's life coach, Jerry, uncovered Sue's unhelpful rules by asking her "What has to happen for you to feel love and experience a loving relationship?" Jared's coach, Angela asked "What has to happen for you to feel that you are talented and on your way to becoming a professional footballer?"

After uncovering these rules, it is easy for Jerry and Angela to point out to their clients how terribly difficult they have made it to feel good about themselves by constructing rules that are really tough to meet. In Sue's case she even hands the power to determine her own success, to other people, making her happiness dependent on their actions!

A simple yet powerful means

The upshot of this is that you have, at your disposal, a simple yet powerful means to ensure you feel happy almost all the time.

Rules should be constructed so that it is easy for you to feel great and so that you are in control. Let's take a look at a couple of helpful rules that Sue and Jared could adopt:


"Anytime I strike up a conversation with another person I feel loving."

"Anytime I smile at a man I like I feel warm and loving."

"Anytime I look in the mirror I feel proud about the warm and loving nature of the person staring back at me."


"Anytime I put my football boots on I feel pride in my talent and passion for the game.

"Anytime I take a break from the game, I am restoring my energy and commitment to reach my dream."

"Anytime I score a goal, I feel my self belief surge and my dream come closer."

From awkward dependencies to positive statements

Can you see the difference? The rules are no longer awkward dependencies that are difficult or near impossible to meet. They are now positive statements of intent about easily one can achieve the desired state, feeling or dream.

Please try this for yourself - and take it from me - this works!

Till next week...

Warm regards,


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