When Playing By The Rules Doesn’t Pay Off?

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I was 16-years-old and standing at the Jordanian – Syrian border when I realised that playing by the rules doesn’t necessarily pay off.
 
My then-boyfriend and I had been traveling around Jordan for a few weeks and decided we wanted to visit Damascus. (I’d like to add here that this was well pre-Syrian-civil war, and though even back then to be traveling there alone as teenagers was… ambitious, it wasn’t the crazy idea that it may seem now.)
 
Anyway, we had done all the things one needed to do to obtain a visa to visit Syria. We had spent an oppressing-ly hot afternoon at the embassy to get this permit, then answering many personal questions. Once done, the stamps in our passports would guarantee us entry to Syria.

Or so we thought.
 
When we got to the border, driven there by local Jordanian friend, things didn’t go as planned. As we showed our passports with our coveted visa stamps to the border patrol, the guy was wholly unimpressed. Speaking in quick Arabic (too fast and too complicated for my boyfriend), he motioned for us to leave. We were denied entry, reason: unknown.
 
We slumped back to the car, where our friend heard us lamenting our misfortune. He shook his head, asked if we had cash on hand and shoved a couple of bills between the passport pages, then told us to try again.
 
This time, presenting our passports, led to a big smile and a swift “welcome to Syria!”
 
I have thought about this experience many times since. Because it had been the first time in my life when I saw up close that there’s a whole world out there the rules of which I didn’t know.
 
Mind you, I am not advocating bribery in any form here.

What I am saying is that if you play by the rules and play by the rules only, you might miss out massively. If you’re always the good girl and doing things the way they *should* be done, without knowing the *actual* way things are done, you may not get what you are due.
 
Have there been times in your life where you feel you missed out because there were rules at play that you didn’t know about or they turned out to be different from what you had been told?

A re-org where roles were distributed outside of your vision?

A co-worker that got promoted for unclear reasons?

A role that was totally yours based on the feedback during the interviewing process, but then surprisingly got denied?
 
Or are you the kind of person that presents her ideas at the actual meeting where decisions are said to get taken, not realising usually the decision gets taken outside of that room, in corridors and offices during quick chit chats?
 
If the minefield of office politics is… well… a minefield to you, do message me. I have clued up since my innocent teenage years, and can now say I am a pro at this 🙂

Book a call with my team for a free coaching session and let’s see what we can do for you!