Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


What's Your Bottleneck?

Last night, I sat down to skim the latest book I received, "The Flip Side," by Flip Flippen. Normally, I flip through a new book (no pun intended), put the book at the end of my "To Read" stack and read it when it's that book's turn. Not with this one - I ended up reading the whole thing then, and there."The Flip Side," could very well change your life.

In case you haven't heard of Flip Flippen (you'll learn his real first name in the book, by the way - and you'll understand why he goes by Flip), he is actually a highly regarded success coach for some notable athletes and high profile executives. He uses this book to share what he's learned through years of helping others become more successful.

What's holding you back?

The subtitle of the book is "Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back," and it very well could help you with that. One of the first things that really sucked me in was the book's focus on trying to help you identify and remove "Personal Constraints" that prevent you from achieving maximum success. Flippen actually refers to Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (TOC), which I've written about in the past (see "Related links" at the end of this post for links).

In Goldratt's TOC, there is always one, primary constraint that limits the effectiveness of the entire system, and you must find a way to optimize or alleviate the constraint if you ever want to maximize the results you can achieve. Flippen embraces this with the premise that you may have many strengths and many weaknesses, but there is typically one, primary Personal Constraint that is limiting your success.

In the book, you'll learn about the"Five Laws of Personal Constraints, and discover the "Ten Killer Constraints" he's isolated through years of coaching. There is one chapter on each of the ten constraints and, in each chapter, you'll have the opportunity to do a quick assessment of whether the constraint is a big issue for you personally. You answer a few questions and use your scores to guide you to your top Personal Constraints. I say "guide" because your top-scoring constraint may not actually be your biggest inhibitor (for me, I believe my #2 is actually my biggest Achilles' heel). You can even check out an excerpt to get a feel for the book.

Be sure to read up on all the constraints - there is also a section in each chapter on how to deal with others in your organization who display these constraints, even if you don't have them yourself.

There is only one constraint

Another concept Flip embraces in the book is one that is central to TOC: at any point in time, there is only one constraint, and you must focus on fixing that constraint or you'll fail. Flippen uses a golf story to illustrate this:

When he took up golf, Flippen signed on with a golf instructor. During the first session, the guy spouted a laundry list of problems with Flip's golf swing, posture, stance, etc. It was overwhelming and he never went back.

Flip then signed up with a different golf instructor. During the first session, the second guy told him exactly one thing to work on, and said, "That's all you need for now. Work on that, and we'll talk when you get that down." Flip understood, could focus, and developed that one skill. After that, the instructor focused him on another (single) new thing. And so on...

This hit home with me, just as it did for Flip. I am often frustrated because I try to attack too many problems at once (or develop too many habits, or sign up for too many things....) when, in fact, I would probably be much more successful (and happier) if I just picked on thing to improve and worked on it until I got it down. Very powerful stuff - and it's ultimately up to you.

Plan to succeed

Awareness is only the first step - now you need to do something about it. After you identify your top Personal Constraint, The Flip Side helps you develop a personal action plan (called a TrAction plan - complete with a downloadable template on the book's companion site) to help you conquer your constraint. I'm just starting on this process now, and the guidance in the book is spot on.

Still not convinced? Then you must read Chapter 16 -that's Flip's personal story, and it really drives the whole book home in a way I can't even describe. "The Flip Side," could very well change your life.

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