What’s Stopping You?

A Critical Doer attacks problems and creates opportunities from the inside out


With Thanksgiving day past and the season of shopping open full bore, you may be secretly hoping as you stand in front of a cash register that someone can answer the question “what’s stopping you?”  Just like there’s not a mystical force (although there may be a financial force) to stop you from making a purchase, there’s not a mystical force stopping you from meaningful accomplishment.

In deciding whether to take the first step forward on a significant project, we sometimes unwittingly contrive artificial barriers from lack of understanding of two concepts…restraints and constraints.  The mere existence of those two concepts…meaning I can’t do exactly what I want exactly the way I want…is enough to deter action.  For others, misinterpreting the two can contract rather than the expand the limits of possibility.

A restraint by definition represents something that is not permissible.  In general, restraints are a function of law or policy.  If your goal is a certain financial target, some examples of restraints would be no illegal activity or no activity that is environmentally unfriendly.

Constraints on the other hand represent a condition under which you can operate.  In general, constraints are a function of resources.  Examples of constraints could be no additional hiring, not exceeding a certain budget figure, or accomplishing a project within a specified time.  None of these examples restrict possibility…they simply shape the environment for the application of critical thinking.  Many will take the temptation to view a constraint as a restraint because it adds difficulty.  We all like the path of least resistance where there are no policy barriers and ample resources, but it’s rarely the case in the practical world at work or at home.

The way a Critical Doer overcomes the mental temptation as well as the actual challenges posed by restraints and constraints is to start with questions rather than answers.  Questions are the basis of the critical thinking process and they help you fully understand the problem before crafting solutions.  The train often comes off the tracks when we jump to a solution that seems easy but that solution becomes confounded with restraints and constraints.  With “the easy button” no longer an option, we become frustrated and likely the problem goes unsolved or the game changing opportunity is not created.

Your challenge is to apply Critical Doer philosophy in all things so that thinking and doing work in harmony.  When the solution precedes the problem, we fall into the trap of beating a square peg into a round hole.  Asking the right questions and correctly diagnosing restraints and constraints shines a light on what is possible…a light available to all, but most choose not to see.

Use this lesson to make sure you never miss a game changing opportunity because you viewed restraints and constraints as the determining factor in undertaking action rather than just factors of the environment where fulfillment awaits.  Thinking clearly and deeply to the point where action can begin is the way, and it’s what a Critical Doer would…do!

So I’ll ask again…what’s stopping you?


Reminder:  you can get automatic updates from The Critical Doer by using the subscription widget at the top of this post.  You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I also encourage you to let me know what you think of the posts or share a story of your own using the comments section or email me directly at [email protected].

Updated: November 28, 2015 — 1:46 pm