The 5 Laws of Personal Constraints: Law 4

Law Four: Personal Constraints Are Role Specific

I was born with dyscalcula, a math learning disability. Can you imagine what would happen if I were an accountant?

My struggle with numbers would not make me a good hire for that job. I’d probably plunge the company into bankruptcy and land the entire management team in prison. While behaviors tend to leak into every compartment of life, paradoxically, they become constraints only when they get in the way of attaining specific goals.

The impact of our constraints can vary depending on what role or context we are in. Behavior that restricts us in one area might be an asset in another. A junior-high-school teacher, for example, will have a lot more trouble with a high level of aggression when he’s teaching math class than when he’s coaching football after school, although his aggression will need to be managed in every area of life. Being methodically analytical probably helps a physician in private practice but can be a hindrance for someone in a fast-moving sales or marketing position and an irritation in relationships, where majoring in minor issues can wear thin pretty fast.

Having low aggression doesn’t work for a race-car driver, and having low self-confidence doesn’t work for a heart surgeon. I don’t want to have a teacher who is low nurturing, nor do I want to have an accountant who thrives on creativity. Our personal constraints are role specific—pure and simple.

To understand our constraints fully, we must consider them in terms of the various roles we play in life. We need to evaluate each constraint in context and determine whether it is keeping us from performing our best in a given position or situation.

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