Rule books tell people what to do. Frameworks guide people how to act. Rule books insist on discipline. Frameworks allow for creativity.

– Simon Sinek

Ever since discovering Simon Sinek’s work, and in particular his book Start with Why, I’ve been sucked into his teachings and trying to grow more in my day-to-day occupations.
Earlier this week I received his daily inspiring newsletter which always contains a quote, message or lesson to be learned and I particularly liked this one.

I work in fashion retail and I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that allows great freedom within their own framework, and is open to trying new things.
During the course of my career I’ve focused a lot on coaching and developing my team-members whether it were part-timers or managers and I’m always (and still am) hoping I can help them grow in their career and in life. But this isn’t always easy because not every company allows you to guide people, they want you to drill people.

Over the years, I’ve worked in companies that had such extensive compliance policies (ergo, the rulebooks) that even when taking a shit, you would worry if you were allowed to swipe with your left hand instead of your right. Sort of a toilet tinder one might say.
It was ridiculous to discover how far companies go to brainwash their staff.


The funny thing with these policies is, that it makes every aspect at work completely unnatural. Because you obey rules that aren’t part of how you are as a person or perhaps rules that go against everything you believe in. And why? Because you need the money and the company says this is how we work. But this is not how companies should work and not how people should work or should behave at all.

Per example:
A couple of years ago I returned to Europe and started working for a Dutch fashion-brand in their Belgian retail market. This is a brand that focuses heavily on training people, having them understand the brand DNA and learn them how to work within the company.
Which is funny because if your DNA doesn’t match the brand’s DNA then why work together?

What I found most interesting during these training sessions was the fact that they want the customer journey to be totally different. They don’t want you to approach the customer and ask him or her how you can help. They don’t want you to start talking about products or styles. None of that.
They want you to “break the ice” and make the customer feel comfortable in the store. Have some small talk.

But how?

They tell you in training you need to use this method, that method, talk like this, body language like that, etc., etc. Thus basically giving you and your staff rules on how to act relaxed, which is unnatural
And ridiculous considering the fact that about 90% of their store-staff does not work via the “break the ice” method and just asks you how they can be of service to you.

I truly hope I coach my colleagues differently. People flourish when you take away the rules, as long as they understand company limits. Build a framework for your company, for your team, for yourself.
Because, as the quote says, frameworks guide people and allow creativity. And creativity isn’t only stimulated by a framework without (too many) rules, it’s also stimulated because you give the gift of freedom. People grow when they are not restricted, they dare to make choices they normally wouldn’t have made and they learn through trial and error.
Let them discover what works and what not, and why.
Let them be themselves.

And ask yourself these questions, and this can be done whether you’re employed or looking for a job:

  • Does this company suit my every need, or at least 90% of it? (Because a company needs to suit you, not the other way around)
  • Can this company help me grow as a professional and as a person? And how? (Make sure to discuss your career development when you enjoy the company you work at or having an interview with)
  • Why do I (want to) work here?

See your career and life as one massive framework and start being creative. You’ll get there where you want to be eventually. Be brave enough to break the rules.





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