Constraints Are Beautiful?
Several years ago, I came across an expression in Reader’s Digest that went something like “If you don’t have an education, you’ll just have to use your head.” It is simply amazing how the entire known world seems to think of not having an education, or, more accurately, not having been schooled, as a debilitating limitation. “A Beautiful Constraint” turns that around by applying that Reader’s Digest expression in so many ways. One of the great things about being caught between that proverbial rock and a hard place is that you can always choose to go Forward!
There are eleven chapters after the Introduction. Each ends with a Summary Page that is very succinct and helpful for retention. Some authors encourage their readers to simply read the Summary Pages if they suffer from Severe Attention Deficit (SAD) Syndrome. I don’t recommend you do that. Read the entire book and use the Summary Pages as a base for you to make your own notes. Take the opportunity to impose a constraint on yourself. Turn off your cellphone and other distractions and allocate a time and place for yourself to finish the book in one sitting. Don’t ask yourself if you can, ask how you can!
The authors also tell us how to use the book. It’s divided into two parts. Part One describes the Process of Making Constraints Beautiful. Part Two gives examples of how to apply the concept of a Beautiful Constraint.
Chapter One is the most important in that it describes how to go from a Victim to a Transformer mindset when encountering a constraint or a set of constraints. Similar to the concept of going from Victim to Victor, the steps go from Victim-Neutralizer-Responsive Transformer-Proactive Transformer.
Chapter Two discusses Path Dependence. The main takeaway for me was how much this resembled Sam Walter Foss’ “The Calf Path” written so many years ago. Still holds true today!
The third through sixth chapters describe the remaining processes of making a constraint beautiful. I could relate to Chapter Four very well, as it brought the oft-used concept of “Yes…IF..” versus “No…BECAUSE…” well to the fore. The power of Collaboration and the US Navy’s concept of “Places, not Bases” was vividly painted, almost literally, for me in the story of feeding blue chicks in Chapter Five. The power of deliberately activating emotions in Chapter Six was significant for me. It was yet another powerful confirmation that our thoughts and attitudes are what influence our emotions. Self-control is not self-imposed catatonia. It’s about making positive choices and is actually very liberating, just as a constraint can and should be.
Chapters Seven to Eleven describe different ways any constraint can be made beautiful. Two key concepts sprang to my mind in Part Two.
The first was the reminder that Zero is a great place to start. Anything you do will be seen as an improvement! The Japanese so-called “Zero” fighter in World War II was top-notch and highly respected by the pilots thrown against it. “Zero” wasn’t a derogatory term, it stemmed from the highly visible red discs representing the Rising Sun on the fuselage. It was simply a good memory jogger for me.
Next was the assurance that the concept of a beautiful constraint can and has been absorbed and manifested in large companies like Nike, IKEA and Unilever. I thought that Lego should have been included as well!
Read The Book!
I borrowed “A Beautiful Constraint” from the library. It’s on my purchase list right now. That’s right. I only buy books I want to keep. You can do the same.