Rules are Easy, The Nordstrom Way Isn’t

It’s human nature to seek comfort. By now you’ve heard me harp on embracing tougher paths whether for virtue, desirable outcome, or otherwise.

I’d argue this is why we like rules. Rules are easy.

Extensive lists of policies and rules do a couple of things. The first is that they give structure and streamline experiences, which is often the reason for implementing them in the first place. The other thing they do, however, is remove personal responsibility. Not only does it remove the responsibility of those asked to abide by them, but it removes responsibility from those that are tasked with enforcing them.

It’s the reason why when your flight gets cancelled the woman at the desk can reply with, “I’m sorry, sir. Our policy allows me to put you on the next flight out. Here are a couple vouchers for food.” She can default to the rules. I can’t argue with them. And, neither she nor I have to actively think or participate in anything. The efficiency of rules like this can be critical for large business management, but we’ve all been on the less-than-wonderful side of those experiences.

Contrarily, we’ve seen a lack of rules show incredible success. We at DEUCE Gym, for example, take this approach. Following in line with Nordstrom’s famously coined ‘Nordstrom Way,’ we have one rule: “Do what you think is right.”

This rule, or lack thereof, gives staff ultimate freedom and ultimate responsibility. It puts the action back in the hands of the participant. Sure, it’s harder. It takes engagement, follow through, communication, and critical thinking skills, but aren’t those the greatest skills anyway?

They are. We practice them and develop them in each other. With the level of responsibility it requires one might ask, “Isn’t there great risk in giving people this much power?” The answer is “No.” All we risk is finding out that someone isn’t capable of holding the standard around here. If we had rules for every decision and interaction our coaches and staff made, I’d argue, we’d run the risk of allowing mediocre people to survive here and that is the biggest risk.

Now, that we’ve established the rules are easy and often used as a crutch. Do you notice how much you like rules when it comes to nutritional advice, for example? “But, are potatoes good? Or, are they bad?”

Potatoes are potatoes, folks. As it turns out, at some point you’ll need to take on some personal responsibility with nutrition, because diets with rules are disengaged experiences that lack responsibility and are destined to fail. To be successful in the grey areas, you’ll need to grab your tool belt and get engaged in your own decisions.

Ditch the rules and step up to the plate with your own two feet. You’re up to bat, and there aren’t any pitch hitters today.


Logan Gelbrich




10/12/14 WOD

Complete the following for time:
800m Run
15 Hang Power Clean & Jerks (135/95)
800m Run
12 Hang Power Clean & Jerks
800m Run
9 Hang Power Clean & Jerks