Episode 71 – The Constraints that Define and Refine Us

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There will always be constraints. And, the world is going through a few worldwide constraints right now that impact us all.

In this episode, I pull in lessons from the theory of constraints (Eliyahu M. Goldratt) to share with you how I have turned multiple constraints into opportunities for growth and learning.

It’s not easy, but it can be done if we ask ourselves new questions and are willing to explore possibilities in life and work.

Check out this and other episodes at https://www.moveyourdesk.com

Episode 71 Show Notes

Episode 71 Transcript

This is Rebecca Clark Episode 71. The Constraints That Define and Refine Us. This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your guests? This’ll Week. I’ve been thinking about the constraints going on in most of our lives, and it reminded me of a book I read a long time ago, actually, probably 15 or 16 years ago, and it was called The Goal by Eliyahu Gold. Rhett and I apologize if I said that incorrectly. I think he also goes by Eli. But this book was It was so well written because he took something that’s a concept that’s important in life and in manufacturing. And he put it into a story from the point of view of kind of a rising manager in a manufacturing plant. And he doesn’t just talk about his work. He brings in the man’s relationship and the things he does as a Boy Scout leader and just different aspects of life because he’s showing how this person learns lessons he needs to learn in order to grow into hiss. Next step at work. And it’s all about the theory of constraints and how you can use that toward bettering business and yourself. And the constraints air like a bottleneck. Right? Like these are the things that are stopping up the system and slowing things down. And so he specifically talks about the importance of how to work through that, how to change that, how to make it so that in his case, the manufacturing process go smoother. And if any of you have worked in manufacturing or in an environment that takes a look at lean principles or six Sigma principles, you know about the theory of constraints. But I want to share a definition for you just from the lean production dot com site. The theory of constraints is a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor, which is the constraint that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until there’s no longer the limiting factor in manufacturing. The constraint is often referred to as the bottleneck. There was one particular story in the book that I still remembered, and I was happy to see that it was readily available on a website because apparently I’ve already donated the book or Kiffin it to someone to use. But there was the story that very simply explained how you take that constraint and you leverage it toward the betterment of a process for the better experience for a team or for the better of whatever it is you are trying to accomplish in your work or your life. And I wanted to read an excerpt from the story he shared, because it’s something I think that a lot of us can relate to. And it was just from a weekend he had leading some Boy Scouts on a hike. And so Gold Rats. Story is about this chubby and slow kid named Herbie who is trekking with a team of stronger boys on a Boy Scout excursion. And so here’s the passage. The plan I learned is for the troops to hike through the forest following a blazed a trail to some place called Devil’s Gulch. After a few minutes, I turn and look back. The column of scouts has spread out to some degree from the close spacing we started with instead of a yard or so between boys they’re now larger groups, some a little larger than others. I keep walking, but I look back again. After a few 100 yards and the columnist stretched out much further. I looked up and noticed that the boy in front of me is going a little faster than I have been. He’s a few feet farther ahead of me than he was a minute ago, so I take some bigger steps to catch up. Then for a second, I’m too close to him. So I slow down there. If I had been measuring my stride, I would have recorded statistical fluctuations. But again, what’s the big deal? Herbie falls over beside the trail, his tongue hanging out. Darn it, We’re not going to be running and stopping all day long. If this keeps up, why can’t we all just walk at the same pace? Is Ron in the front and stay together? That’s when I began to understand what’s happening. Our hike is set of dependent events in combination with statistical fluctuations. What if I were to say that this group of boys is analogous to a manufacturing system sort of a model? In fact, the troop does produce a product we produce Walk Trail. The idea of this hike is not to see who can get their fastest. The idea is to get there together. We’re not a bunch of individuals out here. We’re a team. Now, listen up. I say This is the order. You’re going to stay in until we reach where we’re going. Understood. Nobody passes anybody. Everybody just tries to keep up with the person in front of him. Herbie will lead everyone else. Looks a gas. You want him to lead? Ask Andy. But he’s the slowest one says another kid. Were flying now doing twice the speed as a troop that we did before. And we will stay together. Inventory is down. Throughput is up. Devil’s Gulch is lovely. In the late afternoon sun, I loved re reading that story because it shows how he turned something that at first seemed like a constraint or a weakness that was holding everyone up. And he turned it into something that honored that weakness in a way and enabled everyone to succeed. And I’m assuming that Herbie felt pretty good after that, right, because he got to lead and who knows what happened in that process, but they made it all together with less frustration, and perhaps it was a little boring for some, but they made it together and the trick was a success. Now he goes, and he applies these lessons to manufacturing. But we can apply some of these lessons of constraints to our lives. And right now, like it or not, we live in a world of constraints where the entire world is dealing with the constraints of a virus. And so you have people that don’t believe it, and then you have others that talk about all of these clouds that were walking in that have the virus in it. And then there’s some of us that are kind of in between going okay, I’m going to follow the rules when I go in the store. I’m gonna wear a mask when I interact with people that I run into a wear a mask and follow those rules, and then when I’m out on my walk or by myself, I’ll take it off and just have it hanging there in my pocket, ready for when I need it. And so this has created a lot of extra emotion in the world. There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of worry, and there’s a lot of hatred surrounding this, and you combine that with the different politics and Racists and virtual learning issues and job losses that have come up. There’s a very heightened sense of things, or different things have changed. We may or may not like it. What are we going to do about it and again, Like it or not, our circumstances have changed, and we get to adjust if we want to keep progressing in our life journey. So I think one of the reasons that constraints has come up for me a lot recently is that I had my own set of circumstances piled on top of the virus. Of course, I had my own bacterial pneumonia before all of the lockdowns occurred. So I had already been laid up in bed and not feeling well and not doing all the things that I wanted to dio. And so by the time there was a lot down in March, I was anxious to get back to personal growth and reflection and grow my business and spend more time with my family. So at that time, I realized that here I was ready to go, and then all of a sudden the world wouldn’t to lock down, which I chose to look at as an opportunity to further grow as I had less external commitments to worry about. But I also had to accept that in order to fulfill those commitments, I would also need to allow some things that I hadn’t before like that my child was going to see a little bit more TV and that I was going to have to change my schedule up and mix up some of the time management approaches that I’ve used in the past. And through all this, I’d have to constantly be working on how I felt about it. So part of the new routine, I realized, was that what used to be 20 minute walks in the neighborhood now needed to become something more, and it has become something that’s up to two or three hours of my day just to get us outside, get us moving and to really change it up a bit, right? So her not just all in the same house or anything. But there’s been a few new constraints that have come along the way as I’ve gone through this endeavor. First of all, Covad closed all the parks a few months ago, and we used to go to parks like every other day. And I don’t even know if the parks are open now. And the reason why is because a few months ago I had a car accident and we decided not to replace the car for now, and my car was the one that you could call the junky car, I guess didn’t look junkie, but that’s the one that had the bike in the single in the trunk and the stray sticks that we collect on our walks and, you know, some toys and some balls and different options and things that were in the car, because that was the car that we did all the little adventures in. And so all of a sudden these things are taken away and there’s no school, there’s no neighbors really to play with. And then, of course, there’s the limitations that different people have that are close to me on whether it’s appropriate or not appropriate to play or to go interact and those kinds of things. So we walk now. At first I followed a route around some townhouses, and then I decided to take the adventure across the large road, and we started to explore in an office building parking lot, which is pretty fun because there’s lots of space to run and there’s lots of puddles to play in. When hers rain right. And as the covert constraint got longer, I realized I was gonna have to leverage these daily walks for something even more than sunshine and exercise. For myself and for my son. I started to view the walks differently and ask myself questions. How can I make this a learning experience? How could I find meaning in it for myself? Since it didn’t feel like exercise to me? How could we use this as a chance to talk more? What hadn’t I thought of had re really done all we could to explore? And I found out that I had barely scratched the surface of possibilities, right? So I have this mile, or maybe mile and a half around the house, which I have now discovered far more in than I ever knew existed, and I’ve lived in this area for quite a while in a couple different places. But I found out a lot, and I wanted to share this with you because I want to show how, what felt like a constraint. Having one less car, having cove it, having full time child at home while trying to start a business all seemed like things that would be very difficult. And they are. But I wrote down all these things I discovered through it, and I wanted to share this and hope that it gets your mind thinking about what constraints do you have going on right now. And how can you look at them differently as learning experiences is growth experiences as way to appreciate some things? So here’s what I found out. You walk slower with a small person, so you see the cracks in the sidewalk, every dandy lion and every patch of clovers. You see that there’s a grove of gingko trees by the office building and a hidden patch of bamboo at a Civil War park near you. You realize that that little bridge you drive over going toe another store actually has an amazing little stream beneath it and kind of a small nature preserve as well. You realize that every street to be crossed is a chance to teach. Stop, look and listen and then left, right, left back, forward toe watch for cars coming or going. You notice that there are a lot of Tesla’s and Range Rovers around. But why does everyone seem to have a Mustang or dog charger all of a sudden? Or were they always there? And we’re just noticing them and our people driving faster? Your child discovers that the trucks are all different and very distinct. FedEx, UPS and Amazon all deliver stuff and sometimes DHL. But some Amazon drivers rent budget trucks and others just a plain white truck. Or is that a moving truck? Mommy? And then there are the dump trucks, cement trucks, moving trucks and garbage trucks. The garbage trucks are the loudest, and they’re scary. But are they green or blue? Because one gets garbage and one gets recycling? And why does the office paper shredder truck look different but still recycle? You learn that flowerbed ledges at office parks are a great place to learn balance as long as you focus and you learn that at that office building, the sprinklers turn on at 4 p.m. On Tuesday, but at the vet hospital they turn on Thursday at 10 a.m. Do you discover that early Saturday or Sunday morning you should take the longest walk? Because there is less traffic so you can cross the biggest roads and you get toe, walk new sidewalks and step into new neighbourhoods and find out that some have secret ponds and lakes and trails and playgrounds what it’s like. An entire forest and natural trail network magically appeared that I never known was there before. I just thought a bunch of apartments and townhouses were nestled back there. On other days, you climb stairs, you discover goldfish in the corporate pond, explore lobbies of office buildings and you can only do that Monday through Friday between nine and five because otherwise they lock the doors. You walk around the entire empty mall parking lot, stop to sit on benches and learn how to stay on the right side of the sidewalk. You know, the exact parking lot and time. One mailman takes his lunch break. You take the water balloons and pop them on a stray patch of grass up on a little hill, and then you clean up the balloons and put them in the bag you came with. And then as you go to dispose them in the garbage can that Onley you use, you discuss whether or not it’s garbage or can be recycled. You notice small drains in the parking lots, and you become in charge of cleaning out those drains after every storm. And no one even knows that you have taken on the service project. You talk, you talk about the virus and the worries and the choices and all of the rules mommies make and how. Maybe we should backtrack, just in case. We don’t need to go home right now. And because we’re still wet from the water balloon fight, you learn patients because sometimes you have to watch the worm or the caterpillar cross the sidewalk so that it is safe. Unlike the time in the past where you didn’t watch what you were doing and you stepped on some you inspect the skin of the Katy did or the sick Ada, and you avoid the dead squirrel on learned what happens to it and why not to touch it. You learned to walk with a water bottle or sometimes even an entire cart filled with lunch and with stuff ease. And now it’s September. And so the leaves are changing color and getting collected to bring home. What if there had been no constraints this summer? What I have committed to this amount of walking? What I have found new ways to make it work for me, and for him. Would we keep looking for a four leaf clover that he now knows is very rare. The constraints can benefit us if we decide to use them for our benefit. And I loved that I was able to reflect and be reminded that any time we have some kind of difficulty or something we perceive is this bottleneck or this constraint that we take the time to look at it and go. This is how it ISS what am I going to do with what is and make the best of it? And I know that when we do that, we can come out of it with new skills, with new gratitude and with new understanding. And that’s I think, why likes the story that gold rat shared is that through regular, everyday life activities. He learned things he could apply to work. And I know vice versa is true. We can learn things in our work that we can apply to ourselves or to our homes or to our other environments in our lives. So I encourage you in this very interesting time in the world to bother to reflect and look at the constraints that you deal with on a daily basis and in society and think of them differently and think what you have to learn from it, what you can offer up from it, what you can change, improve, modify or help someone else with. Okay, my friends have a great day, and I encourage you to take a walk. Talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at. Move your desk dot com. See you next Monday

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