Five days ago I broke the rules. I got my nose pierced. Aside from the fact that I am over 40 — and although this is not my first non-ear piercing — this is a bold and daring move. You see, my workplace has a policy against facial piercings.
Employees who already have piercings are supposed to cover them or wear transparent spacers. But you can’t do this when you just got pierced. Besides, most of the folks who have nose piercings in my organization don’t cover them or wear spacers.
But none of them are management.
So why would I do such a rash thing? Am I, as one of my friends asked, trying to get fired?
No, I’m not, and I did not act impulsively. It’s just that the policy is a rule–with a lowercase “r”. Strangely, in three days back at work, only ONE person has said anything about my new facial jewelry or even seemed to notice — my assistant. To me, this speaks volumes about our organizational culture.
So if I am ever asked by my boss, HR, or anyone who really wants to know, here are my reasons, in loose order of priority:
- I really wanted to do it (it’s very cute, sexy, and feels good to me!).
- I couldn’t think of a good reason not to do it that wasn’t fear-based, and I am resolved to not make fear-based decisions.
- I can’t agree to follow a rule that is exclusive, prejudicial, does not harm people, and in fact creates a false separation between me and the people we serve by implying some kind of superiority based on appearance. This separation actually impedes my ability to do my job well.
- It’s up to us in power to push the envelope — to use our power to set new examples and effect change. New behaviors come before new rules, and setting new, evolved standards is one obligation of leadership. (Did policies and expectations about women not wearing pants to work change first, or did women just start wearing pants and the rules changed? How about the laws against interracial marriage? Those rules changed because interracial couples took tremendous risks and went to court to challenge them.)
- I don’t agree to follow a rule that implies I am not OK, or should be ashamed of myself or how I look.
- Hyperfocusing on these sorts of superficial rules distracts us from the real problems in our organization/world — like how we treat each other and how happy and fulfilled we are. Just because a person fits some sort of corporate mold of appearance does not necessarily mean she is kind, hard working, or customer-oriented. The latter is what we should be more concerned with.
- I believe in following Rules about being my authentic Self, with integrity. My piercing is one way I am true to this Rule, and it serves as a visible reminder for me of this commitment.
- My workplace and I are in a dysfunctional relationship in which I (mostly) give and it (mostly) takes. This is one way to take some more (instead of waiting to be given to) or to give less. It is one way to create more joy where it is lacking and to be more myself where I haven’t been.
- As long as all are not held to this rule equally, and not held accountable for much worse, I cannot agree to comply.
- Being a good girl and a chronic rule follower hasn’t gotten me what I want and need–at work, or anywhere else for that matter! (Have you seen the bumper sticker “well-behaved women rarely make history”…?)
- Doing this allows me to be more in touch with my Shadow Self, which is good for me and the world. (Also see #10. 🙂 )
- I am willing to accept the consequences of my decision.
I can’t always change injustice, but I can choose whether or not to participate in an unjust system.
I can’t always change the rules, but I can choose not to comply with them. This also embues any choice I make to comply with more integrity and power.
I can’t always inject reason into insanity, but I can choose to be sane.
I can’t always make people like, know, or respect me — but I can always know, like, and respect myself.
What rules are you willing to break to create change in your life and the world? What Rules are you truly committed to?
Ometeotl … In Lak Ech…