The Rules

What do Seinfeld, Pawn Stars and the Godfather movies have in common? Well, it’s something that has contributed to their popularity, at least in my opinion, and that element seems to be increasingly scarce in our current society, thus the appeal. I submit that the common element is morals. And by “morals” I mean the rules of the game.

Let’s start with Seinfeld. It was stated to be a show about nothing. But was it really? Every episode I saw had something to do with customs or manners or some sort of do’s and don’ts. If it wasn’t the Soup Nazi’s strict requirements of how you were expected to order soup, then it was how many dates you had to have had before you can break up with the person. Double dipping with the same chip? Eating out of the kitchen trash? You get the idea. Someone would eventually debate the pros and cons of these common suppositions that everybody is “supposed” to know.

Pawn Stars is fairly new on the scene and for those who are not familiar, it’s a reality show set in an actual pawn shop in Las Vegas. Incidentally and ironically, Las Vegas has for its slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” How’s that for a rule about no rules? But Pawn Stars definitely has rules. For instance, a client brings in merchandise and expects to get market price for it. Then one of the staff has to explain that the shop has to sell it at market and so must buy it low enough to make a profit on the item. And any time the staff themselves break a rule, there are definite consequences from the shop’s management.

Which brings us to the Godfather. Despite the criminal nature of the enterprise, it was all done in the context of agreed-upon and predictably enforced rules. And said enforcement was just as certain as a trip to the woodshed used to be when one talked back to his parent.

In the Sixties, when I was still coming of age, someone started a slogan circulating, “If it feels good, do it,” which has since been shortened to “Just do it.” Just yesterday I saw a recent sitcom in which a teenage daughter responded to her father with, “Come on, Dad. Get real!” As you might imagine, the father did nothing to correct the daughter on her sassy mouth. So times have changed.

There is something reassuring about having rules. Even if you don’t like them, as long as you know what they are, you know where you stand. It’s when the rules get vague that one can lose his or her way. For instance, Dancing With the Stars fails to entertain me only when there are disagreements about the rules. And by the way, have any other baseball fans besides me noticed an increase in bad calls by the umpires in the last season or so? One thing hasn’t changed, though. Arguing with the ump still will not get a revision of the call.

Last week I discussed goal-setting. Goals lend a purpose to one’s activity. Writing a goal down has been shown to increase the chance of accomplishing it. But then one also needs rules. Steps and methods and guidelines with which to conduct one’s progress. As I looked over my notes on the http://www.musicsuccessinnineweeks.com program, I saw that I had listed out some intermediate goals and had even surpassed one of them during my hiatus. So now it’s time to focus on actions and standards of behavior and exercise the discipline necessary to reach all the targets.

The goal voiced by Madonna early in her career was to “rule the world.” My overall goal is a little tamer – worldwide acceptance of my music and an improved society as a result.

My areas of focus involve:

1. Branding – A workable 15-second pitch. See http://www.15secondpitch.com.
2. Marketing – Learn more basics of social media.
3. Performance – I run an open mic, but I need additional performance opportunities.
4. Recording – I have rough demos of a couple of songs, need to make them presentable.
5. Delegation – My wife can help with some duties, need to settle on which.
6. Manufacture – CD stocks are empty, need to make another batch.

You see I am taking baby steps, but this certainly beats wishing and wondering. My rule for myself (tying back to the title of this blog entry) is to do something each day to move forward toward my overall goal, via the intermediate goals.

Now that feels better. I think I’ll do it.

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About Steve Dockendorf

Music composer and producer, educator, counselor.
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