I was participating in an online course a few weekends ago co-taught by Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. If you’re not familiar with these ladies, Brown is the author of a handful of books about shame, vulnerability and imperfection, and she is well known for her June 2010 Ted Talk called The Power of Vulnerability.

Glennon is the author of Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life as well as the current NY Times best seller, Love Warrior: A Memoir.

These two women are badass. For years they have individually carved a path for themselves as thought leaders in the area of human conditioning and personal development and they recently teamed up to teach this course.

During one of the introductory videos of the course, Brown said, “The rules of the world are established.” Now, when I first heard this, my immediate reaction was “They certainly are not!”

But after carefully listening again to the dialogue and wisdom shared between these two women, I heard Brown circle back around and say, “The rules of the world don’t matter if you don’t believe them.” Ah, now we were getting somewhere. Because the latter comment is aligned exactly with my own thinking and teaching.

During our formative years, most of us aren’t equipped to arrive at the conclusion that the rules of the world were simply made up to begin with. They’re mere inventions handed down from those who came before us. Generally it’s our parents or guardians who establish the foundation of our belief system. And they taught us the same made-up ideas that someone taught them.

I don’t say this to place blame on anyone. I’m hopeful that most parents are well-intended protectors of their children and that they are performing the difficult task of parenting to the very best of their abilities. Regardless, we start to employ a belief system that was constructed by people older and supposedly wiser than us and was then handed down to us on a platter known as truth.

What “rules” or “beliefs” have you bought into, and just how, exactly, are they serving you right now? Are you using any of these rules or beliefs to make excuses for playing small in your life?

Let me use my own life experience as an example. One belief that was passed down to me from my parents when it comes to money was “scarcity.” The common theme in our family was that there usually wasn’t enough of it.

My decision regarding that money issue was to disregard that generational rule as an excuse to live my life in scarcity. Instead, I would use that rule to serve as a reason to create a life of abundance. I did the same thing when I decided I wanted to apply to and attend Harvard University. The rules of the world on this event in my life included:

  • “You didn’t come from a legacy family.”
  • “You didn’t go to the ‘right’ undergraduate school’.”
  • ”You have absolutely no connections to help you to gain admittance to such a prestigious university.”

Sounds to me like some pretty persuasive reasons to not apply to Harvard. But instead of heeding the warnings implied in these rules of the world, I took advantage of these made-up ideas and made them the very reasons for me to do something that many thought was not possible.

Break some rules folks. From this day forward you be the one who decides who you are and what you are capable of doing in the world. Remember, the rules of the world don’t matter if you don’t believe them.

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About The Author: Annie M. Fonte is the founder and CEO of Meet Me At The Barn — a self-mastery and personal development program designed to help people of purpose achieve their highest level of living. With an MBA from Harvard University, Annie has founded numerous successful ventures in health care, sports medicine, continuing education and hard goods. At Meet Me At The Barn, Annie and her team produce live and online courses that guide clients toward living an authentic life and that help people discover and pursue their true self and passions.