Living by the old rules

MyCoachingToolkit - Living by the old rules - Blog wide

Living by the old rules 

In 2008, Frederic Hudson published a paper ‘The context of coaching’ where he discussed the difficulty society now has to connect the different chapters of life, from childhood, through to adulthood and onto our elder years.

He felt our perception of the world had slowly but surely shifted from a stable, orderly, steady state model, to an unstable, disorderly change driven one. So if we are aware of our skills and natural talents, they will help navigate us through these changes and acquire the ‘know-how’ needed to succeed, no matter what life throws at us.

In his paper, Hudson sets out the four old rules many people still felt their lives would follow and the four new rules that he presented as changing the paradigm and empowering people and organizations for the future.


The four old rules

  • The linear rule – This rule promised progress for those who are honest and work hard. According to this rule, our lives, careers, economy and culture are supposed to get better and better, year by year, generation by generation, if we do our very best and follow the cultural rules.
  • The steady-state rule – This rule promised that if we work hard, we will each arrive at a steady-state or plateau of security and happiness for the rest of our lives. It’s like a cultural reward for falling into line, so adulthood would be a period of stability, achievement and devotion where everybody had one marriage, one career and for the most part, one geographic location.
  • The outside-in rule – This rule said our personal lives are defined and determined by the directives of the society around us. From this point of view, the boxes of life around us shape and determine our personal choices. To succeed you need to follow the cues around you, because the forces that surround you are more stable, permanent and reliable than you are.
  • The learning rule – Learning is seen as the central activity of children and young people, because it launches them into adult careers, family life and leadership roles. Once launched into adult life, they shift from learning to work as their main activity. Learning was seen as a function of young people, not adults and modelled to function like a personal dynamo to carry us through the rest of our lives.


The four new rules

Hudson could see that the old rules required a culture high in continuity, control and agreed upon authority. Yet over the previous 40 years, these old rules, which had thrived and worked well, were now leading us towards a sense of decline and discouragement. The more we tried to live by the old rules the more we felt helpless and frustrated.

In reality, many of us still live as if the ‘steady state’ rule were fully operative and so we expect life plans, careers or organizations to lead us with assurance towards security, happiness and financial prosperity. And when people or society hold onto beliefs and rules that are dysfunctional in their daily experience, they become angry, scared and disempowered.

The way ahead is to change our expectations, our perceptions and our vision of how our life works. Hudson therefore set out the rules that would empower our lives and institutions in the context of the rapid change that defines our time. Most of all we need to believe in ourselves again, both as individuals and as a people or culture. By replacing the four old rules with four new rules that are both fair and empowering for our lives in our kind of world, we can restore confidence, quality of life, productivity and leadership.


Further reading:

If you would like to understand how Natural Talents can help your clients navigate changes like this in their life and acquire the ‘know-how’ needed to succeed, check out this exclusive ebook in our online shop:

Ebook : Coaching Natural Talents – Help your clients develop their key strengths with this essential tool for coaching natural talents. It includes a simple step by step process to use in your coaching sessions.


We have also published a range of ebooks, games and kits to help you within your coaching sessions:


We constantly add content to the site, so please check our on-line shop and look at the full range of games, ebooks and kits. Or read some of the other blog posts written by our team of international coaches.


Join our community

As a new online resource centre, we welcome members from all over the World. Therefore, we would love to connect with you on social media, via our pages on FacebookInstagramTwitter  and  LinkedIn. So no matter what you want to chat to us about, please remember to engage, like, share and join our community.


Please note – Please include a reference and link back to this original blog if you wish to copy or share anything we have written: (cc) – 2021

Leave a Reply

Select your currency