There is no one-size-fits-all path for mega success.
Aside from courage and capability, only one other trait is necessary for groundbreaking triumphs: a willingness to break the rules.
Breaking the rules separates the dreamers from the doers. Sometimes these doers justify their actions by their egos, their overconfidence, their immense talent (or a mix of all three). Sometimes it doesn't even occur to doers that they are trodding on convention--they just see the rules as the narrow confines of a box they must break free from.
There's actually a right and a wrong way to light the match that burns the rule book. I know that might sound ironic--break the rules but do so with etiquette. But I promise that all the major rule breakers of history knew instinctively to do this.
Consider the following two rules that stifle so many.
Rule #1: Don't bother busy professionals, particularly those more successful than you, and only call people if they ask you to or if they have already called you.
Broken: Reach out by phone pleasantly and with confidence. If that doesn't work, reach out with strategy and ingenuity.
This is perhaps the most damaging rule and the most often followed.
Many view professionals who have extreme success as these delicate super-humans who shan't be disturbed by their lowly inquiries.
Did it ever occur to you that people at the top might be deeply interested in an idea created by someone who is not cushioned by extreme triumph and wealth?
Making a call is almost always the best way to reach out to other busy professionals as it signifies conviction and it assures you won't get lost in the email-cesspool. Furthermore, if this professional has a very uppity assistant, he/she might just delete your email as it may look like an unsolicited query.
What if you've called and been pleasant, but still can't make contact? Well... what if you had extra courtside Lakers tickets? What if your college buddy who runs the admissions department at the elite private school could admit this person's underperforming teenage son? What if your old roommate who is now a successful vet could fix their dog's cataracts?
You get my point. There actually are a million ways to get to the other side of a brick wall.
Rule #2: Receiving a series of NOs is like market research: you need to adjust whatever you're selling.
Broken: I believe in what I'm selling and respond to each rejection with class.
If you have complete confidence and faith in your product or service and you pitch it to ten people and receive ten No's, that means you should....?
Adjust your product or service...
...says the herd mentality.
Look at Sarah Kauss, the founder of S'well, the company that makes fashionable water bottles that keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours. She readily admits that at the start of launching the product she got a lot of no's and a lot of "why is it so expensive?" and "who is going to buy this?"
A person who follows the rules would say, "yeah, maybe I need a more budget friendly version." A person who breaks the rules says, "I'm putting something brand new into the world that has value, even if others cannot see it at this moment."
If you have a brilliant idea, don't expect a lot of people to recognize it. Sometimes the No's you hear are the rules of convention you need to continue to trample politely.
If you feel you have greatness within, don't expect to unleash it by following the rigidity of the world around you.
Give yourself permission to go out on a ledge to get to the next level or step forward.
This article was originally published on Inc.