3 Types of Invisible Things You Do To Hinder Your Performance
IN THIS VIDEO: 00:02 An Unforgettable Outing With My Boys 01:08 One Balloon That Simply Can't Get Off The Ground 01:53 I Know What It's Like To Be That Balloon 02:46 Why You And I Can Feel Tied Down 03:39 The One Question You Need to Answer 04:14 How Talented And Capable People Are Short-Circuiting Their Success 05:38 Having Constraints Is Part Of Being Human, But You Don't Have To Stay That Way 09:01 What Are Your Critically Impacting Personal Constraints 09:35 You Have More In You, So I'm Making A Personal Investment in You
A few years ago I took two of my boys, Matthew and Micah, on our annual guys’ outing: a grueling, six-day, backpacking trip in the mountains of Colorado.
The morning after we arrived in Beaver Creek, we went to the ski area where we would begin our hike. We put on our packs and began to head toward the lift that would take us up to our starting point. As we rounded the corner of a large building at the base of the mountain, the entire plain exploded in color.
We had no idea we had just walked into the biggest ballooning event in the country. Mesmerized by the scene of balloonists preparing for flight, we watched as hot-air balloons of every color in the rainbow swelled with air and began to fill the sky. Pilots and crews scurried about. Blasts from tiny furnaces punctuated the morning bustle, and inflated balloons strained to lift their passengers to the heavens, held fast as they waited for the ropes to be removed.
One balloon caught my eye. Most people were running away from it because it had become dangerous—the furnace had stopped firing hot air into the balloon before it had fully inflated. Half-filled and tethered by a long rope, it was slowly arcing its way in a circle, knocking over everything in its path like an enormous plush bowling ball. A crew member was frantically struggling to untie a rope that wouldn’t budge while the balloon wreaked havoc in slow motion. As we watched from a distance, the balloon continued “basket bumping” along the field, as it pulled and lurched against the restraints. I looked at Matthew and Micah and said, “Boys, I know just what that feels like.”
“What do you mean, Dad?” Matthew asked.
“I know what it’s like—wanting to get off the ground, but tied to something, and trying desperately to break free.” I went on to explain that I could remember various times that unseen “ropes” kept me tied down when I wanted to soar. Despite my mistakes and failures, I knew I was meant for more. Cut me loose and let me go—I WANT TO FLY!
Later, as we watched the balloons rise toward the heavens from a mountaintop where we were sitting, I reflected further on the striking similarities we share with them. I realized that we are all riding in a hot-air balloon. And whether we recognize it or not, we are all in a race. Some of us are still tied to the ground, looking for a way to get loose so we can take flight. Then there are those who are lifting off but not gaining any altitude because they are carrying too much weight. The ropes and weights hold them down as they try to move up and out.
As we begin our ascent, we noticed that some balloons were immediately soaring upward, while others were hovering along the surface, barely clearing the ground. Then someone would run up and yell at one of those struggling to get off the ground, “It’s the weights! Throw out the weights!”
After a moment the person in the gondola would get it. It’s the weights that are holding me down! They would begin to throw the weights overboard as fast as they could, and sure enough, the balloon would begin to rise.
So, what are the things in your balloon, your weights, your ropes, the things that hold you down? You can choose to live life as you always have, or you can choose to identify and overcome what has held you back. You can fly—and the air, the scenery, and life itself will be so much more exhilarating as you discover how to overcome the personal constraints that have been holding you down.
Our company has had the privilege of working with some of the most outstanding leaders of business, sports, and education of our time. The information we gathered told the same story: in every field, talented and capable people were short-circuiting their own success. But they were also finding that they could fulfill their potential once they could identify and overcome the constraints that were holding them back. Drawing on these experiences and insights, we created a complete system for identifying the specific factors that limit performance. They could then develop a personalized plan for growing through them.
At the heart of this system is a set of simple principles that describe the impact of personal constraints in your life. I call them the Five Laws of Personal Constraints. Used together, these laws provide a solid foundation for the personal-growth program presented in the chapters that follow.
Let me share Law One: We All Have Personal Constraints...
We all know of public figures who make the headlines daily as they fall prey to cutting corners, greed, and moral failures. But we also know of constraints being played out on a smaller scale—parents who are too critical of their children, the boss who is too defensive to hear feedback. Having constraints is part of being human. I have them. Everybody I know has them. And you have them, too.
The trick is… you don’t want to keep dealing with the same personal constraints year after year.
As we’ve seen, some constraints are more damaging than others. There’s no point focusing on minor inconveniences when a potential train wreck is waiting somewhere ahead.
As I was developing the OPC process, I found that personal constraints fell into three basic groups:
Inconsequential Constraints: This group doesn’t make a great difference on a daily basis unless they hinder a specific role or job. For example, a lack of fashion sense, being short or tall, or being left-handed generally have minimal impact on success.
“Hire-able” Constraints: These are constraints that you can hire someone else to do for you. They could be critical, but are not if the solutions are provided by others. “Hire-able” constraints include things like messiness (hire a housekeeper), disorganization (hire a secretary or assistant), and poor grammar (use a spell-check program or hire an editor). Or in my case, my learning disability with numbers (hire a bunch of great accounting people).
Owned Constraints: This category will impact your personal and professional life most profoundly. One thing I keep trying to do is hire someone to do my gym workout for me—but it never seems to work. The constraints that you have to own, and you can't hire someone to take care of them for you, are such things as...self-confidence, self-control, caring for others, achievement, drive, etc..
When we address these constraints...we get our greatest gains.
I want to focus on the behaviors in the third category. I have little interest in spending a lot of time working on constraints that are inconsequential or negligible. Those things that I can hire others to do certainly have importance, but they will always be secondary to those critical constraints that only I can address and correct.
Working on something like being better organized is worthless if the constraint is that I am yelling at people.
Work on the things that get you the most results.
So, let me ask you: What are your most critically impacting personal constraints?
You should know the answer to that question....
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