The Danger of Rules

Imagine coming face to face with a rule that could hurt someone. Maybe even leave someone dead. One that makes you ask “Should I break the rules?” Sometimes the rules are dangerous.

If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.
— Marilyn Monroe

Lifeguard Shack

Image via Creative Commons

Tomas Lopez faced such a rule earlier this week as a lifeguard in Hallandale, FL.

You’re probably asking what happened. If you want to read the full article, you can view it here.

The Rule Breaker

Tomas was in his lifeguard stand when several beachgoers run to the stand. They’re telling him there’s a man drowning and he needs help.

The problem was this man was in an area outside of the lifeguard zone. The rules state that lifeguards are not to venture away from their zones.

A choice had to be made: To stay in his stand or to risk his job (and life) to rescue the drowning man.

Tomas chose to attempt a rescue of the man.

He left his stand, went to the area, and assisted in the rescue.

When he returned to his zone, he knew he would face consequences. He knew he was going to lose his job. And that he did.

The Problem With Rules

Rules can be great. They let you know what is expected of you. What the guidelines are. They’re meant to correct a supposed lack of integrity.

Yet when it really counts, the rules must be broken. You have to go against the authority and take action. Regardless of the consequences.

Had Tomas not taken action, a man could have died. There’s a problem with that outcome…

What To Do When Rules Are Broken

The next time you’re confronted with a team member who has broken a rule stop and consider why.

Was it for selfish gain? Out of spite? To help someone?

Most people are good people and won’t break a rule just to break it. They do it because there may be a better way. Someone may need help. Or the rule is no longer needed.

Don’t react hastily. Get the facts and consider the results of the action. You may find that the rule had unintended consequences.

Integrity has no need of rules.
— Albert Camus

Question: Think of a time when a rule caused more harm than good. Why do you think this was? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.