That’s not our “policy”

Yesterday I attended an art show and reception at our local library in which my wife Joanne was one of the featured artists.  During the course of the afternoon I also wandered over into the library and naturally found myself in the business section.  Not seeing any copies of my books there I then did a quick search on the library computer and found that the 5 copies of 48 Days to the Work You Love they have in circulation were all checked out with a long waiting list for those as they are returned.

So I walked up to the desk and talked to the nice mid-60s lady and gentleman who were overseeing the library on this lovely Sunday afternoon.  They confirmed that their five copies of 48 Days to the Work You Love are always checked out and always have a hold list.

I then suggested that I walk out to my car and get three additional copies that I would give them immediately.  But after a brief raised eyebrow they quickly agreed that they had no policy for that and there was no way to integrate those books into their system.  The only solution they could come up with was that I might call the library director on Monday, although they thought she was on vacation for a couple of weeks.  I went back to the art show and drank another round of Joanne’s wonderful summer mint tea. 

Have you ever known someone who sends money to an anonymous organization on TV rather than helping the out-of-work lady down the street pay her rent because giving to the lady would not be “tax-deductible.”

Do you remember when people got new cars on Oprah and then sued her because they didn’t know they’d have to pay taxes?

Would you stay in the 20-mph speed limit in a school zone at 3:00 AM in the morning if your child’s head was bleeding and you were on your way to the hospital?

Do you politely send your resume to the company you want to work for rather than call or show up because they say “No phone calls please”?

What are the “rules” and policies in your life that are keeping you from receiving new abundance and success?

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29 Responses to “That’s not our “policy””

  1. Jim McKee Says:

    You could do what I do when I have books I no longer need. I go to the library after hours, and drop them in their book-return drop slot. I do this anonymously, so that they have no way to refuse my donation. Of course, they could throw them in the trash, but I seriously doubt that they’d do that.

  2. Molly Warren Says:

    Regarding the response from the librarians…..does those remarks have any “common sense” in them? Not able to accept the books (at no cost
    to taxpayers) and please contact our library director on Mon, but they thought she was going on vacation for several weeks – Huh ?????

    They could have not been thinking on their own !!!!

  3. Nick Says:

    I applied for a position at a company online AND walked in with my resume, cover letter, letter of recommendation, and references. I told the HR recruiter that I wanted to introduce myself so they could put a “name with a face.”
    The recruiter told me they didn’t accept walk-ins. 30 minutes later, I received an email telling me that the company does not accept paper resumes. I had already applied online, so I waited to hear back from the company. A few weeks later, I received an email notifying me that the position had been filled.
    That’s life!

  4. Joe Chavez Says:

    @Nick: similar experience I’ve had recently since I’ve been laid off.

    I applied for a local credit union. I asked a friend and former co-worker of mine if she could submit my résumé to the hiring manager directly. She was able to tell me the hiring managers name but told me that they don’t accept paper copies of résumés. You must apply on-line through their website. I had asked her if she could find out the salary range for the job. She tried and her own company wouldn’t tell her!

    So I played along, filled out this web-based form complete with all the mandatory “salary history” and “desired salary” (knowing full-well, like Dan says, can only work against me).

    24 hours later I got a call from an HR person asking to schedule a phone interview (again, this is a local credit union). I figured: “They must like me!”

    After spending 20 minutes with a recruiter (not the hiring manager) going through the same old, tired “what did you do at this company, etc.” she finally asked: “What salary were you looking for?”

    Like Dan says, I told her instead: “I need to talk to the hiring manager first and see what the job responsibilities are and if we’re a good fit before I talk salary.” She persisted so I gave her a range that matched what I already wrote on their web form!

    Proceeds to tell me that the salary for this job was not even in the low-end of the range I needed.

    How do you spell “w-a-s-t-e o-f t-i-m-e?”

    For what it’s worth, even more troubling to me, it was a Christian organization!

  5. Anita C. Lee Says:

    Don’t you just hate it when someone doesn’t take initiative! But, Dan, what were you implying by mentioning that the library couple were in their mid-60s? I hope you were trying to differentiate them from teeny-boppers who might be excused for not having enough experience to make a decision, rather than indicating that they were too old to do the job effectively. We middle-60s folks are just hitting our stride!

  6. Kate Says:

    What rules or policies do I have that are keeping me from abundance and success? Great question, Dan.

    I sometimes think I’m too conscious of being “polite” or following OTHER people’s rules! In other words, I get caught in the trap of “things just aren’t done that way.” Then I ask myself how would I appear if I broke the rules.

    All of that, I realize, is a subtle form of self sabotage.

    When I look at how successful people got that way, they almost never played by existing rules — at least not entirely. Somewhere along the way, they took chances, went off the beaten path. Fear often keeps people glued to personal rules and policies that don’t really work — they just keep us in our little corners.

    Thanks for this post, Dan — pointing out how ridiculous and limiting “policies” can be. I’ll be more conscious of this.

  7. craigbradshaw67 Says:

    Daily I see daily restaurant and retail operations loosing sales because they have any entry level person making decisions based on “Our policy”. Today I ordered 50 footlong subs from my local Subway for our church.

    The manager, a young girl, first told me that they normally require a day’s notice. I apologized for the 3h hour notice, it was after the lunch rush, and was wondering if there was any way she could do it for me this time. I then said, “I bet your owners would really like the sales” I think she thought I knew the owners, so she agreed.

    Crazy, it should not be that hard to buy some subs!! I have boycotted places for things like that but I cannot boycott everyone! I will speak to the owners about how my consulting business may help them.

  8. Toks Aruoture Says:

    When I created my website I felt that I had to fit in with the status quo. So on the FAQ/Customer service page I simply followed in the footsteps of those that had gone before me. A terms and policies page that would send anyone packing, lots of talk about the fact that we won’t accept customised returns, and other turn offs. Just yesterday I was chatting to a service provider who kindly proceeded to point out all that was wrong with the site, thank God for people like John. So today is a day to simplify!

  9. Debi Says:

    Having been a struggling single mom for 10 years, I see first-hand the “no tax break” phenomena. I really need a decent car…with no help. I was injured & out of work.( the doctors don’t pay while you’re out sick) The rent is behind & we’re in real trouble…but those who can help won’t because it’s not a tax write off. The $8000 first time home buyers break doesn’t help me…I don’t make enough. Cash for clunkers don’t help…I can’t afford a NEW car!!! So what can I do? (have applied to other jobs–above poverty level to no avail.(over 50—BIG discrimination) Thanks for the chance to tell it,Dan. Suggestions????

  10. econobiker Says:

    “Would you stay in the 20-mph speed limit in a school zone at 3:00 AM in the morning if your child’s head was bleeding and you were on your way to the hospital?”

    This is not an accurate example as most school zones are not enforced outside of certain times. A better example would be “Would you stop at an unattended stop light at 3:00 AM in the morning if your child’s head was bleeding and you were on your way to the hospital?

    Actually stop lights and traffic signals are the most wasteful symbols in the US. In manufacturing “stopping” equals waste. Who has NOT ever waited at an automatic light with no cross traffic? We need to use the round-a-bout (such as in Europe) to save money on gas, time in commutes, and public infastructure in eliminating the need for the light maintenance and the electricty to run them.

  11. Andy Traub Says:

    Dan, the Traub library is currently accepting any and all extra copies of Dan Miller books. We’ve got plenty of room on the shelf and plenty of people who could use some good reading.

    – Blessings,

    your techie fan

  12. Erniejazz Says:

    Why ask permission to do a good deed? Just do it. If money is involved say or leave a note that it is from GOD’s Treasury and move on.

  13. Paul Says:

    I will ask ( WHY? ) when I am told of a policy that don’t make sense. Of coarse it usually stumps the person that is ask when it is meant to make them think.

  14. Indypendent1 Says:

    Dan has great resources for this dealing with this subject. Another really great easy read is QBQ -the question behind the question-by John Miller

  15. WEC Says:

    I read stories like these, my heart aches, then I get angry.

    We’ve gone mad: procedures, policies, rules, and laws–intended to make life more convenient, activities more efficient, and our interactions safer, instead–make the real human contact we all hope for less, rather than more, likely.

    I doubt security is worth this price–if only because such security is illusory.

    As a job-seeker, I’ve received lots of advice from self-proclaimed (and, often, sadly, self-serving) experts. The latest of these was a detailed account of what to do in an interview–minute-by-minute–written by a veteran interviewer. But what came through most strongly–amidst sound, but hackneyed advice–was the petty arrogance of the interviewer. He unapologetically justified sweeping judgments of an interviewee in just the first five minutes.

    Now, I do not think myself particularly naive: no doubt, what the veteran interviewer describes is done, but it can’t be desirable. I prefer to think that, say, Quasimodo could, in the course of an interview, form the beginnings of a genuine connection with his interviewer. But this, of course, would require that the interviewer discard his mental checklists and make himself available for such a connection. All too often “our policies” get in the way.

    If this really isn’t what we want our our working relationships to be (to say nothing of our lives, generally) then such policies have to give way before the experience of the simple humanity of the people we meet. Dan was seeking to serve a demonstrable need and was thwarted by the insecurity of those confronted with the unexpected generosity of a fellow human being.

    And very likely, these same librarians are complaining of state funding cuts. (I know mine are.) Madness.

  16. Lora Says:

    I bet if you where offering them a large sum of money to donate they would have gotten a hold of the manager who was so called away on vacation. Some people can not see a gift when it is standing right in front of them. A sad shame.

  17. Says:

    Great article about the library and “not having a policy for that.”
    This is quite the thought provoking situation.
    It seems we have an epidemic of “Gee we don’t have a policy for that! ” running rampant through the entire USA.
    Much of this pervasive affliction is a result of a workforce / population (and people in general) that is not encouraged to “think outside the box.” This epidemic of Cranial Rectumitis (one’s head is where the sun doesn’t shine) is sooo contagious that it has spread through Washington DC like wildfire as evidenced by “leaders” that pass hugely expensive legislation and do not even read the bills they are voting on. Go Figure.

    Back to the library situation, If I were you, I would take ten copies of 48 Days and send them via USPS Priority with Delivery Confirmation, or a similar method, to the Library Director with a letter detailing your generous offer of assistance and how it was met with confusion and a lack of enthusiasm. The letter will also document your deductible contribution. I would also CC the library board attached to a second letter asking how you can help the Board and the Library establish a clear method to accept donations. I can understand where the Library may wish to screen material to screen “offensive” or “adult content” from being “donated ” to the system.

    The other huge point of this situation is that often a client needs to be “educated ” about the benefits of a product or service — they don’t even know what they don’t know….. and the “right people” in the organization need to be identified to receive the education….

    Another thought on folks not being helped because they are not “Tax Deductible” …why not develop a simple way for a poor family to establish themselves as a 501c3 ” foundation” ????

    Refer to the following URL as an example,,,,

    Click to access 501c3.pdf

    It might help folks like “Debi” who posted earlier…. just a thought .

    One more quick comment…..

    ( I never gave this much thought until I was corrected a while back)

    ” if your child’s head was bleeding ”

    should be :

    ” if your child’s head were bleeding ”

    ” If ” is a hypothetical future condition , “were” is grammatically congruent with the future, “was” is a past tense descriptor.

    Hopefully this can help some youngster(s) get a better SAT score in the future.

    Keep on thinkin’ outside the box!

  18. Gwen Gyldenege Says:

    Excellent post. I appreciate your story and your perspective. Always enjoy reading your blog.

    We allow ourselves to get altogether too caught up in following the rules AND asking for permission. Sometimes they add value, other times, it hinders positive progress.

    The value added rules are the ones that help keep the honest people honest – accounting, etc. For the rest, if we don’t attempt to stretch the limits of some rules, how will we grow? Who says that’s the ONLY way to do/act/be/live/process?

    Often, we just keep doing the same old thing because someone before us did it, so it must be right. When, they might have done it only because they

    1) didn’t know any other way
    2) needed a temporary fix
    3) it was the best solution at the time

    We must question and be curious in order to build a better world!

  19. Lynette Says:

    Sad world that we live in! We’ve tried to donate books to our local library. We have a whole series of horse books that my pre-teen loved to read but the library didn’t carry. It was a huge process. It turns out that most of the books they get from people just dropping them off-go to an annual book sale. Books are sold for .10 and up. It really doesn’t make much sense. I would always ask before I just dropped them off! Valuable books could just end up in the trash!

  20. Mindy Says:

    Great analogies in this article. I am amazed at the ‘things’ people donate to organizations; such as sheets from a nursing home that have been discarded, they are basically hazardous and should have been burned. At least the donator could have washed them in bleach. Clothing that has been marked by mice, moldy and etc. I can’t imagine how these folks can give with this on their consciences. Would they recieve a donation that is tarnished? I’m glad God gave us His BEST. We should do likewise, even WITHOUT the tax deduction. HE see’s what you give. What’s in your heart folks? It’s better to give than to recieve.

  21. Kirsten Says:

    So many of today’s “rules” and “regulations” make no common sense. People need to do more thinking and less following.

  22. Sheiran Pudifin Says:

    My natural tendancy for was to always play by the rules, even when they made no sense; however, the older I get and the closer my relationship to the Lord, the more inclined I am to break the rules. I have joked that I rebelled late in life, but rearing 3 sons, challenged me to think out of the box, ask questions, move on and keep in knocking no matter how long it takes.

  23. Jennifer Says:

    Dan, I do hope you went back and spoke with someone else in charge and donated a few more books. Maybe they could use a spanish copy or two?

  24. J. Barnett Says:

    WOW!! This article was an eye-opener for me in two ways. One, I have allowed others’ “policies” to hinder me. I never have been one to cause controversy. If they say it is their policy then why question it was always my motto. No longer! Two, I have always stuck with the status quo and was afraid to break out from “the way we always do things.” Your message really hit me in a place that hurt…which I see as a good thing. Now, I know it is time to heal that area by making some changes within myself and testing some limits. Thanks so much. You are a blessing!

  25. Levieta Says:

    I graduated college at 52 years old with an Associate’s Degree in Legal Administration. I had planned to open a home office and do Legal Research and Document Preperation for those who cannot afford to pay an attorney the ridiculous fees they charge.
    Now, I have learned that in the state of Tennessee, a Paralegal has to work under the supervision of an attorney. So much for my success.

  26. Dan Miller Says:

    Great comments here. I have always questioned the “rules.” Just how I’m wired I guess. Here’s an idea I’ve had. Authors have been known to do reverse shoplifting in book stores. Meaning instead of stealing a book, they take in a book or two of their own in bookstores that do not carry copies of their book. The authors then position their books boldly on the shelves. When someone picks them up to purchase, the whole system is confused. No store tag, not in the “system” etc. I could do the same at the library – just slip in 3 or 4 more copies of 48 Days to the Work You Love. Then when someone tried to check them out the librarians would faint from having to deal with something that didn’t fit their policy.

  27. Huntz Leineweber Says:

    Response to “It’s Not Our Policy”. As a person who somehow decided to think for themselves, I elicit input from people and various other sources, validate the information as best I can and make my own decision. I have found this to provide a low stress life because I take responsibility for the consequences of my decisions. But there is a caveat – in organizations where I have worked people who follow this path are often regarded as troublemakers, disloyal and difficult – I have no doubt the librarian feels this way. I heartily advocate following one’s “own” path but if is not free of potholes…

  28. Andrea Says:

    Loved this post, Dan.

    This type of behavior you describe is what my next book, THE KINDNESS EXPERIMENT, is about. I hope you will give me permission to reprint your column in my book… maybe as a Foreword.

    For the past 12 years I’ve been cataloguing my experiences when I make an attempt to do something kind and beneficial for a person, family or organization… or ask for basic assistance as an intentionally homeless woman. I can give you an excerpt from the book, a true experience in 2004, but it’s too long to post here:

    I’ve even conducted experiments I call “creative generosity” – always sincere – such as contests, just to see the response or reaction. Nearly always people will mess it up for themselves. It never ceases to astonish me how much suspicion is aroused by generosity of spirit.

    True to form, I’m again doing something unconventional. Those who buy an advance copy of my book, The Kindness Experiment – comes with bonuses – will actually share in the profits of the book and its spin-offs. Who does that? Nobody I know, so that should generate some negative comments like, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”

    And if that happens, well, I’ll have one more story for the book.

  29. Tax Writeoff Says:

    Man, i hope my blog is this good some day! 🙂 haha! I have been trying to raise awareness of donating your old vehilce for tax purposes.

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