Freedoms, Barriers and Goals

Our choices in life and how we live our life are governed by 3 things: 

A bottle is a perfect example of freedoms, barriers and goals in harmony.
Utilizing freedoms, barriers and goals the bottle (filled with beer let us say) can be bought as one of six in a six pack, stored in a fridge or pantry, and eventually used to pour the beer in a glass, or to drink the beer directly from the bottle.


The same idea applies to a dam.  I.e. barriers to contain the freedom of water so that it can be channeled towards the goal of water provision.

And if you think carefully about it, so to is the PMBOK Dashboard (or other project method) also reliant on the concept of freedoms, barriers and goals.
To this end project constraints (the knowledge areas on the left of the dashboard) need to be planned for and utilized (monitored and controlled) so that the project goal is achieved.

Living life successfully, being able to improve it by utilizing products and also the running of successful projects, is all about understanding these three conditions and being able to recognize them and work within them, keeping them in balance

Let's dig a little deeper:

NB Stick with me as I develop this argument. Remember that PMWay is primarily an ideas web! Therefore, as we explore these ideas, know that it can get a bit messy as we play around in the sandbox.

When you were a baby you had no barriers.  In Psychology we would say that you had no ego boundaries.
When you were hungry, you cried and you were fed.
When you were cold, you cried and were wrapped up in a warm blanket.
When you were wet, you cried and were changed and cuddled and everything was made warm and right again.

As you grew up life started to bump into you and started to push your ego boundaries back into place.
Your ego boundaries snapped back from a (fantasy) position where you thought there were no barriers at all, to being in a more realistic place which is aligned with the real world. 

Living in the real world should not be about the fantasy of total freedom, but rather a realization of real freedoms earned within barriers.
I.e. The transition of total freedom to freedom within barriers was learned (started to happen to you) when, for example, you started to walk as a baby and then bumped into a table and felt pain.  Oops... something painful stopping me and is in my way!  Possibly if I go around the table by moving like this....
Or you had a temper tantrum and demanded something that your parents suddenly did not give you.
Or someone at junior school started screaming because you took their toy away from them and the teacher reprimanded you.

An example of behavior without barriers could be an older child that is never disciplined and can do whatever it wants  I.e. the child is growing up and is not being taught the importance of barriers or boundaries.

Or a teenager who has not moved out of the unrealistic mindset of total freedom and who is extremely lazy and who wants to live a constant life of freedoms  I.e. without barriers or goals (the self discipline needed to achieve goals).

A drug addict is another more extreme example of this type of person who wants total freedom all the time and (because they cannot put into place the necessary barriers / have not put goals into place within the barriers needed to achieve them) actually wants to escape totally from the rigors of life into a world that is constructed by a pain relieving drug induced haze.

The word "NO" can be a positive word that puts boundaries back into place and teaches us how to live within constraints while interacting constructively with each other and in groups.

The word "Respect" is a word that shows that you have an understanding of and respect for the boundaries of others.  I.e. Their privacy, their possessions etc.

If this were a utopian world, and we could all get everything we wanted, whenever we wanted, then unrealistic expectations (now made realistic because of utopia) would never be a problem.  But the fact is that we all live in a physical world where there are laws of nature (the economic laws of scarcity) and as such there is also fierce competition for resources.  In looking for work (jobs) there is also competition for successful lucrative positions etc. 

Economists refer to this as having a "multiplicity of wants" and trying to satisfy these wants with "scarce resources".   (Resources are broadly categorized into Land (physical resources /oil, minerals, steel, land that can be used to grow crops etc.), Labor (which is the work force) and Capital (which is buying power I.e. credit, money, savings etc.).  But there is also the fourth and most important resource which is the Entrepreneur.  The Entrepreneur is the person with the training, intellect, courage to take risks, and savvy to pull all the other resources together to make a successful market offering and ultimately a success in business.  Entrepreneurs are a very scarce resource and it is not easy to be a successful Entrepreneur.  It is the Entrepreneur who sees the goal [the need] and is able to navigate around the barriers and hit it in the target area. [satisfy the need])

The above said, the old story of the golden goose which lays a single golden egg each day also remains relevant and true.  Being greedy, the recipient of the regular golden egg may decide that it would be better if the head of the goose is chopped off to find all of the eggs (more eggs) at once!  But with this comes the demise of the goose and the end of  the golden eggs!  This is also an example of the misuse and misunderstanding of how to keep Freedoms, Barriers and Goals in balance.

The existence of too many barriers can also be a problem as this can force a person into overwhelm where they do not think that they can succeed and can, as a result, give up and stop pushing for success  all-together (called a "blow" condition where they suddenly up and leave, refusing to play the game any longer). 

Or someone who works all the time (overcoming one barrier after the next) and as such has no time left for their spouse or family.  I.e. they are too rigid and have surrounded themselves with too many goals, enforcing the barriers necessary to obtain them (staying at work until late each night etc.) and has few freedoms.  What normally happens with this type of person is that suddenly, one day, they meet someone at work and have a wonderful affair (their ego boundaries collapse and they become like children again with no cares or responsibilities) but then they wake up later, as their ego boundaries snap back into place and realize the disastrous consequences of their actions, after their family has disintegrated into the devastation of divorce.

A person who has too many goals but does not chase each one down effectively (in a stepwise and realistic / rational manner) is another example of one of the conditions being out of kilter with the rest. This could be the typical Jack of all trades who is a master of none.

And finally barriers can also be used to play games as this image shows.
I.e. withholding information, undermining, blocking initiative etc.
Risk management in Project Management (the Risk Management Knowledge Area in the PMBOK dashboard above) is all about being able to rapidly break down the barrier that could potentially or is stopping a project from getting safely and quickly to its destination.

One could argue that achieving goals through hard work is good. And it is! 
But the trick is that a balance must be maintained between enough work to achieve the goal and a goal that will cost too much to achieve.  I.e. you eventually achieve your goal, but at the expense of your relationship with your family (I.e. your wife and children), or the cost of your health etc.  Or a project (and expectations) is being run without sufficient resources or unrealistic timelines, unrealistic pressure to force delivery to achieve unrealistic outputs etc.
In this regard my guru W. Edwards Deming is quoted thus:
"It does not happen all at once. There is (more often than not) no instant pudding" and "a goal without a method is nonsense!"


Balance in life is about understanding the 3 conditions and the impact they can have on you; then working within them in a rational manner towards the achievement of your (or your team's) goals (within and navigating barriers) for success.