The 5 Laws of Personal Constraints: Law 1
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 our 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 5 Laws of Personal Constraints. Used together these laws provide a solid foundation for the personal-growth program presented in the chapters that follow.
Law One: We All Have Personal Constraints
We all know of public figures who make the headlines daily as they fall prey to rage, 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. 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:
1. 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.
2. “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).
3. 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. These constraints include behaviors such as low self-confidence and self-control and other character issues (for example, lack of trustworthiness) that you alone can change. Addressing this group will give you the greatest gains.
The focus of all that we will be discussing in this book is on those 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.
After we have reviewed our goals, roles, and relationships, we are in a better position to see which constraints we can ignore, hire out, or own. Knowing the difference is key to identifying the constraints that are impacting our success the most. Only then can we expect to start getting the results we want.