Brainfood: Your route to the top - How to bend the rules

Befriend the rule enforcers. It's hard for them to be tough on someone they like, especially if they owe you a favour.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Spot the soft rules. These are the ones that aren't really rules at all, just traditions that have turned into habits. If there is no real reason for them to exist, there is no real reason to stick to them.

Make outrageous suggestions. That way, when you come up with something that bends the rules slightly, it won't seem so shocking.

Be clear about the benefits. Paint a picture of the great things you are trying to achieve. You will gain the upper hand if you persuade others that they will be better off as a result of a little derring-do.

Act confident. It will take a self-assured person to challenge you if you behave as though your actions are perfectly normal.

Be known for pushing the boundaries. Show how it has helped in the past. Colleagues and bosses are more likely to give you extra licence if you're known for an unorthodox approach.

Call it creative thinking. Original ideas nearly always come from challenging assumptions and changing the way in which things are done.

Identify the spirit of the rules. Use that as your guide, rather than slavishly sticking to the letter of the law.

Challenge the rule-makers. Ask them to explain the principles behind the rules. If their argument isn't watertight, point out the inconsistencies. If their logic is impeccable, see if there's a way in which your exception can be accommodated.

Take the risk. There's a fair chance that no-one will notice, and even if they do, they might well admire your cheek (sorry, your entrepreneurial spirit).

The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up is published by Time Warner (£12.99), www.themindgym.com.

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