Flip Flippen simply and powerfully explains in his book, "The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back" the following brilliant revelation:
At the heart of Overcoming Personal Constraints (OPC) is the powerful notion that our strengths do not single-handedly define our success. No matter how formidable our talents, we are held back by behaviors that set the limits of our performance or define the reasons for our failure. In other words, our personal constraints determine our ultimate level of success. If you can identify those constraints and make a plan to overcome them, then you’ll see a dramatic surge in success, productivity, and happiness in all aspects of your life. In short you’ll learn who you were born to be.(1)
It was only recently that I was introduced to Flippen's Constraint Theory, that "our personal constraints determine our ultimate level of success." What makes this theory even more compelling to me personally is the simple clue Flippen gives in identifying our greatest constraints. The clue . . . is knowing your greatest strength or strengths. What . . . no way? Yep, it's true, think of one of your greatest strengths (I'll wait) now turn it around and ask yourself if it is also the very thing that trips you up when out-of-control or used at the wrong time . . . thus becoming the very thing that constrains you from success?
For example, let's say your greatest strength is trustworthiness. Let's say you are so trustworthy that you also transfer your trustworthiness over to others in your company, blindly believing what you are told, not what the data indicates? And what if because of your blind trust, accountability is almost considered a dirty word in your company? Until one day a Federal Agency knocks on your door because your CFO pushed the limit a little too far. Can you see where your greatest strength can become your greatest constraint? I can . . . Or, what if you are incredibly intelligent and have wisdom others seek out; but it is your High IQ that contributes to the impatience and frustration with those you work, creating a volatile work environment? Leading to poor culture and thereby creating constant employee turnover . . . costing you more money while making it difficult to hire and retain great talent, thus capping your organization's success? Greatest strengths, meet your greatest constraints.
So again ask yourself, "What is your greatest strength?" Then ask yourself where that strength can run amok in other situations? Again, it will be your greatest constraints that cap your success personally and professionally. The very things that derail you from fulfilling your destiny are the very same things that have likely brought you success. In other words, the very things that your clients love about you, are likely the same things that keep you and your organization stunted. Going around the mountain again instead of going north as it were.
Enlightened? Intrigued? The question then becomes about what you want to do with this information? Awareness is the first step . . . get a journal, because this is a journey. BTW, I have a killer electronic journal that I write in . . . note, the act of writing is very important in journaling (different topic). Start with listing your strengths and then prioritizing your top three to five (put a star by them if you are writing in a paper journal). Across the page, write the words corresponding to your strengths by imagining your strengths gone amok, not the opposite, but out-of-control or an inappropriate use of them in the wrong situations. Your strength tends to be your "go to" behavior, just mistakenly used when you need to deploy a different skill.
Now comes the really hard part . . . vulnerability and transparency . . . ask those you work with, live with, play with what they see. Share your strengths and those corresponding gone amok behaviors. It's important to share the gone amok behaviors to demonstrate transparency and vulnerability (also a different topic). When you are transparent, others will believe your sincerity. And if they are worth their weight in salt, they will answer you honestly while keeping you and your organization's best interest in mind. We'll talk more about next steps as we go. For now, let's stop going around the mountain, assess and see, with the purpose of finding our truth north . . . enabling us to walk out our destinies successfully.
. . . and lastly, read The Flip Side by Flip Flippen, if for no other reason because of his name . . . come on!
(1) Flippen, Flip. The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back (p. 21). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Barbara Hogan is the Founder, CEO, and President of Timbelo, Inc., a woman-owned, WBENC / SBA 8(m) certified company specializing in business strategy and culture. In 2010, Barbara launched and became a co-Owner of Afidence, a local award winning IT company.
Considered a thought leader in strategic thinking, Barbara serves and leads various Boards and Councils in the Cincinnati-Dayton region. Active in the community, Barbara is sought out as an inspirational speaker, a panelist for women's leadership, and as a facilitator/moderator for local business events. Barbara and husband, Bryan Hogan of twenty-five years celebrate their three amazing children and four even more amazing grandchildren. Barbara is also an Ordained, Sr. Chaplain with the IFOC.
Barbara has a compelling passion for impacting others and improving lives. Whether in the realm of her personal or professional life there is no distinction—people are important. She has a strong sense of integrity, bold thought leadership, and deep respect for others.
Recipient of the MADE Esprit de Corps Award in 2016 and recognized as a Cincinnati Women of Influence in 2015 by LEAD Tribune Media Group. Afidence was recognized as the Best IT Services Company in Dayton, named among the Top 25 Consulting Firms in Cincinnati, Ohio, was an honored recipient of the Goering Center Family & Private Business Award, and named as an Inc. 5000 Company in 2016 and 2017.