Coach: What do you expect from Personal Development?
Michael: I expect Personal Development to be of a high quality. To make life better for me. And not to take too much effort for me to do.
Coach: That sounds reasonable. But there is a catch here that you may not be aware of. It’s known as the “triple constraint” or the “iron triangle’. In simple terms it means than when you expect three benefits from something you are not going to get them. You can get two benefits alright but not a third one as well. So when a wise person wants three benefits he or she learns to select two benefits and to forget about the third one.
Michael: So I can choose a Personal Development activity of a high quality. That also makes my life better. But not one that also does not take too much effort on my part.
You will find triple constraints everywhere
Coach: It’s all about trade-offs as Ben Casnocha says in his blog. He calls it the “pick two out of three” rule. When you spot a triple constraint the trick is to use the pick-two-out-of-three rule to make a really good trade-off.
Michael: So if holidays can be (a) luxurious, (b) relaxing, and (c) cheap. You can choose a luxurious and relaxing one. A relaxing and cheap one. But you can’t have one that is luxurious, relaxing and also cheap.
Coach: That’s it. The trick is to choose the two options that you value most and forget about the third one.
How to use the “pick two out of three” rule in Personal Development
Coach: The triple constraints you choose for personal development show how you think about it. And what is important about it for you.
Michael: So the triple constraints I choose namely: (a) High Quality, (b) ability to enhance the quality of my life, and (c) the cost in terms of time, effort and money reflect how I think about personal development?
Coach: That’s exactly what I mean. You want to use personal development to change your behaviour to a new higher more skilful level. To a level that improves the quality of your life. But you do not want to put too much effort into it.
Michael: And the “pick two out of three” rule says I can only have two of these. So I have to decide which one to drop. So in this case it has to be my desire not to have to put too much effort into it.
Coach: Yes that is a good example of how the “pick two out of three” rule can help you to sharpen up how you think about personal development. It stops you from falling into the trap of making a poor decision about it. In this case not to understand how much time and effort you will have to put into it.
Michael: Yes I can see that now. And how frustrated I would be if I made this mistake.
Coach: There are no short cuts to personal development. It is about behaviour change. And even a small change in behaviour can take up to 60 days of doing it every day to integrate it into your life style. When you do not see this problem in advance and plan for it you are unlikely to make a go of it.
Michael: So it’s the time and effort constraint that most of us get wrong. As far as I can judge very few people know just how much time and effort they need to put into Personal Development. I certainly didn’t.
Coach: If you get that right to begin with. Then you are more likely to get at least one of the other ones right as well and to achieve the success that you desire.
Michael: So when I put enough time into working on my Personal Development. And put enough effort into it then I am more likely to get what I want from it.
Coach: That’s it, Michael. But first you have to choose the right kind of personal development activity. One that will give you the result you want. When you put the time and effort into it.
Michael: Why does it have to be so difficult?
Coach: It is so complex because the mind is so complex. The mechanical part of it isn’t complex really. It’s proven that with more practice and proper technique you can improve dramatically. It’s always a work in progress though. The day you think you have no more to do to improve yourself, you’re in trouble.