The 365 Best Business Books Of All-Time: The Three Laws of Performance

It’s Monday January 1, and it’s amazingly cold here in San Antonio. I thought (mistakenly, I guess) that one of the perks of moving here from Toronto was the warm weather.

But I digress.

Most leadership books you read don’t require a ton of thought to “get the point”, which is usually a good thing. However, every once in a while it’s good to read a business book that forces you to do some deep thinking.

The Three Laws of Performance is one of those kinds of books.

My Key Takeaway/Principle

How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.

This is the first law of performance from the book.

How situations occur to us depends on so many things — our upbringing, our social status, our gender, our culture and a multitude of other factors. The problem is we don’t treat them as interpretations of the facts, we treat them as the facts themselves.

All you have to do is read the headlines on CNN and then on Fox News to see this in action every single day.

It’s a cliche example at this point, but the classic tale about two shoe salesmen in Africa drives the point home perfectly.

Two shoe salesmen were sent to Africa in the early 1900’s to scout the territory.

One telegraphed back: “Situation hopeless. Stop. No one wears shoes.”

The other telegraphed: “Business opportunity. Stop. They have no shoes.”

If you accept the principle that how people perform correlates to how situations occur to them, then you have the responsibility not only for your actions but how other people (like your direct reports, for instance) interpret your actions.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How can I interact with others so that situations occur more empowering to them?
  • What processes, dialogue, or meetings can I arrange so that people feel like that they are co-author of a new future not merely recipients of others decisions?

This year (2018) I’m reading and summarizing the top 365 business books of all-time. You can get the full list of books, and links to my reviews of each book, by clicking here.

Happy learning!