My Mother Told Me to Break the Rules

The #1 rule my mother taught me to break was the Rule of “Reality,” which states that people must bury their dreams and devote their lives to trivial tasks.As children, this rule of reality has no real power over us, no relevance to our situation. We dream of a future based on learning, exploring, and mastering skills that bring happiness to ourselves and others, not based on picking from someone else’s approved list of acceptable careers until we find the one we can best survive. Why is this so easy as a child but so difficult as an adult? Why do we begin to follow this rule at all? As we mature and take on responsibilities, it becomes harder and harder to reconcile our dreams with our duties. Somewhere in early adulthood we are taught that sacrificing our dreams is the only way to fulfill our responsibilities.

We give up the things that make life worth living so that we can live by the world’s rules. And we do it because the world tells us that breaking the rule of reality leaves us vulnerable. It’s too risky, and it’s childish anyway.

Give me a break. That’s it? Just because the world says we can’t have our dreams, we don’t! Really? That’s who we have become? I think not!

Break this rule now!

When we are young boys and girls we are taught to believe that we can accomplish anything in this world and that we should never give up! We are taught to have faith, dream big dreams, work hard, go to college, and treat others as we would want to be treated!

For me, my mother was the person that convinced me to dream big and to never ever let anyone tell me that I couldn’t achieve those dreams. She was my coach, my protector, and the one who, to this day, is still in my head saying, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something!”

In the movie The Pursuit of Happyness Christopher Gardner (Will Smith) says to his son, “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can't do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream? You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

I will never forget this quote because it brings back all of the memories of my amazing childhood with only one parent: my mother! You see, my mother raised me on next to nothing, yet I had everything—and I mean everything. In my mind, my mother was the real creator of the Red Shoes Experience. She wore red shoes each and every day by how she lived. Through her I learned the importance of believing in myself and believing in others.

She was the one who everyone came to for help, advice, inspiration, and sometimes just a simple hug. Our house was one that welcomed in many people who were broken by the restrictive rules of cynical people. These people were always able to leave our home with a reminder in their hearts that they could break the rules and prove the world wrong.

I am confident that most of us have been blessed with parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, coaches, or amazing friends who actually taught us the concept of never giving up, living our dreams, and, at least for me, how to treat people. For me, this has turned into the concept of Red Shoes. To always stand out in our service of others. To make people better simply for having interacted with you.

You see, when we rely on each other and support each other, the world is a better place, because we lift each other toward achieving dreams not tasks. No one can tell us that something can’t be done—that our dreams can’t be accomplished.

Ask yourself this question: What did you want to be when you were a young child? A doctor, professional athlete, astronaut, actor, ballerina, entrepreneur? Are you doing it? If not, why? Break the rules and live your dreams!

Mom, thanks for teaching me to be a rule breaker. It has made all the difference in my old age. : )