Are you a victim, neutralizer or transformer of constraints?

Richard Allen
Jun 5, 2017 · 3 min read

Starting new business is hard, it involves changing the way we think about things, learning new ways of doing things and finding the motivation to keep going when things get tough.

Over the years I’ve tried a number of different business ideas each of which had various degrees of success but each time I tried I learned a little more and shifted my thinking which made the next time I tried a little easier.

I recently read the book “A Beautiful Constraint” by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden and it really sparked an “aha” moment that seemed to capture the process involved in each significant milestone in my own personal development.

One of the key chapters for me was “Victim, Neutraliser & Transformer” in which the authors discuss the different attitudinal changes that we need to move through in order evolve our mindset towards the constaints that we face.

Which one are you?

Apparently, whenever we are faced with a new constraint there are 3 different ways in which we might react to them and as the chapter title suggests these are victim, neutralizer or transformer.

When I first read this I tried to think back to some of the times I had come across constraints and how I reacted to them. There were certainly times when I had let myself be a victim, such as when I first thought about going from an employee to a self-employed consultant. I felt constrained by being an employee and I wanted to work for myself but I remember how when I first starting thinking about it I convinced myself that I couldn’t do it, it was too risky and much safer to stay in permanent employment — at the time I accepted that I would stay in permanent employment.

There were also times when I had neutralised a constraint by finding a way to work around it. Whlist being constrained by being an employee I convinced myself it was because I had moved into a management role and I was no longer doing what I loved which was coding. In this case I simply got another coding job, the constraint had been neutralised for the time being but I was still stuck in permanent employment.

Eventually, neutralising the constraint wasn’t enough and my desire to break my permanent employment constraint was sufficient to drive me towards finally transforming the constraint and taking the plunge to become a self-employed consultant. At this point I had convinced myself I could do it, I had researched what I needed to do to make it happen and I had the necessary motivation to make it happen.

As it turns out, whenever we are faced with a constraint we naturally adopt a victim mindset, even if we are very experienced and skilled at transforming constraints but the time it takes us to transition between the stages might be significantly different based upon our experiences.

It was only when I had the belief that I could do it, the knowledge about what to do and the motivation to make it happen that I finally made the transition from employee to self-employed.

At the time, making the transition from victim to transformer of this constraint took years. As I continue my journey into entrepreneurship the victim to transformer cycle time is something I am looking to reduce continuously.


When it comes to starting a new business we are constantly faced with new constraints that will hold us back and prevent us from making progress. If we let them, our constraints can suffocate us and inhibit our ability to move forward and achieve our goals.

However, understanding that it is possible, regardless of the constraint, to transition from victim to transformer means that we can start to break those constraints by ensuring we have the right mindset (Do we believe that it is possible?), method (do we know how to start doing this?) and motivation (How much does it matter to us?).

What constraints are you currently facing in your entrepreneurial journey, what is holding you back and are you being a victim to those constraints?

Change your mindset, change your world!


We share lean start-up techniques and practices from our Bootstrapping journey

Richard Allen

Written by

Co-Founder of, and Making things happen.



We share lean start-up techniques and practices from our Bootstrapping journey

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