Like it or not, internally, my instinct is to follow the rules. It's just neurologically buried deep within my brain.
Cutting corners is cheap. It's for the intellectually lazy. Call them the anti-curious even.
There are plenty of times where I would cringe at people's loose interpretation of the rules to fit their own agenda. That would likely never be my approach, but I suppose they feel they can get away with it.
I've found that the same kind who skirt the rules for work or school often lack the discipline in their personal lives as well.
Taking the easy way here. Doing halfway work there. It's a recipe for getting by, not a path to success.
At some point it catches up with you. And, when it does, it's a house of cards.
Even worse, because corner cutters have purposely chosen to take the easiest way, they've likely not put in the work to learn, well...anything.
Talking with the intellectually lazy is superficial at best, and they expose themselves quickly. Surprisingly, it's not by the questions they ask, rather it's the questions they don't ask. Then, they make it to the end of the assignment, and it's not remotely close to the expected product.
Maybe that's not suprising afterall. The anti-curious are focused on survival.
Thriving requires discipline.
It's easy to bash on the corner cutters. They have no interest doing the work. There definitely not ready this post. Give it to them on a one-line graphic posted on LinkedIn, and they may read it. Hell, they might like it.
(Yes, I have people in mind while writing this post.)
Here's the gap for the ambitious to set themselves a part.
If you're an emerging leader, and you feel stuck under a corner cutter, don't fret. You've actually been blessed with an opportunity.
Learn what the anti-curious boss or senior-level colleague doesn't want to learn. Learn what they are too lazy to learn. Learn beyond what they know because, again, they will likely never plunge below the surface.
Treat this as a game. Outpace them and when it comes your time: shine. Don't hold back. I don't mean be arrogant, but definitely demonstrate what you know and cite it to back it up.
Using this technique, I was able to earn a promotion to senior planner after two years as a planner I.
Submitting National Transit Database (NTD) reports are time consuming and tedious, but it's mostly straightforward if you're organized. The reference material provides mostly clear direction — if you happen to read it.
I'm a disciplined rule-abider, so naturally I read the rules on reporting safety data.
Based on my reading, I noticed that our organizational threshold for categorizing major and non-major safety events did not align with the NTD, and I raised the point to my boss.
Of course, reflexively he outright dismissed what I said, so I brought him the handbook. Not surprisingly, he disagreed with the handbook that stipulated the thresholds. To make this point more clearly, they said the guidelines were wrong, and we should continue to report the way we have been.
"That's not the way we've done it," he retorted.
I was able to get him to budge enough to agree that we should contact the NTD representative.
That month, we began reporting it based on the correct thresholds.
One year after that, I earned an opportunity to present a vision plan to elected officials as a planner I, a presentation that my boss should have given. That presentation propelled me to senior planner.
Some six months after that presentation, the boss was out, and I was acting manager. Within a year, I was the new manager.
Be disciplined when others are lazy. Follow the rules when others cut corners. And remember, the intellectually lazy will never show you source material.