The theory of constraints, popularized by Elihu Goldratt in his book The Goal, says that, in any work process, there is a limiting step or constraint that determines the speed at which the entire process can be completed. To get more done, you must identify the key constraints on your activities. You do this by asking these two questions:
1. What is my goal or objective?
2. Why haven’t I accomplished this goal or objective already?
In other words, what is holding you back? What sets the speed at which you achieve your most important goal? Is your constraint internal either to yourself or to your company? Is your constraint external, caused or created by forces outside yourself or your organization? Your ability to identify the critical constraint that determines the speed at which you achieve your most important goal is essential to your getting the job done in a timely fashion.
Once you have identified your key constraint, you must then focus and concentrate all of your energies on alleviating that constraint or solving that problem. Sometimes the removal of one key constraint can alter the entire situation. The hiring of one key person, or the acquisition of one key skill or resource, can totally change the future of your business.
Often, you are only one key skill or ability away from doubling your income, and dramatically increasing your productivity and effectiveness. What could it be?
Practice Single Handling in All Things
The principle of the mass applies to every area of business and personal life. Your ability to identify the most important thing you can do and then to “single handle,” to concentrate without diversion or distraction on that one task or activity, is the key to high productivity. For example, the Marines are famous for focusing single-mindedly on achieving their objective. The inability to concentrate leads to wasted time, wasted energy, diffusion of effort, poor performance, underachievement, frustration, and eventual failure.
Peter Drucker says, “Whenever you find something getting done, you find a monomaniac with a mission.” Successful people all seem to have this special ability to concentrate their forces and mass their energies on the critical task where great success and victory is possible.
Fortunately, focus and concentration are habits and ways of acting that you can learn with practice. Once you have developed the ability to set priorities and concentrate single-mindedly on the most valuable use of your time, your future becomes unlimited.
The Principle of the Mass Revisited
Great men and women and leaders in every area of life are those who have learned to focus on their critical tasks. In war- fare, the ability to mass your forces at the right time and place is a force multiplier that enables smaller forces to conquer a larger enemy. An average person with average abilities and opportunities can often achieve outstanding success by concentrating on doing one thing, the most important thing, and doing it well.
There are many qualities that are helpful in achieving success, but the qualities of focus and concentration are indispensable. With the ability to mass your powers, all things are possible. You become unstoppable and your ultimate victory is virtually guaranteed.