Pedantry vs. Mastery

Mitch Hobish Growth, Innovation, Leadership, Productivity

Unless I maintain vigilance, I tend to be rather rule bound. It’s a part of my personality that I’m not fond of, so I do my best to be aware of my response in situations.

That’s why this quote, from A Word a Day struck me as being noteworthy:

Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry … To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery. -George Polya, mathematician (1887-1985).

Questions: How do you respond to situations? Do rules—and their application—give you comfort and the tools to deal with circumstances? Do you apply them pedantically or masterfully? What would/could change, were you to modify your behavior in this regard?