Understanding the Three Laws of Performance

Three Laws of Performance

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We need change in the world but are we really doing something to make it happen?

We see in our everyday lives the thing we want change but in reality, there’s just little to no progress at all.

Today we talk about what the book, the Three Laws of Performance – and how the impossible can be done.

But first, free your mind from the pre-conceived notions first. Understand the incoming discussion with an open mind as this can change things for you.

Law Number One: How people perform correlates to how situations occurs to them

In the things you do, you are probably aware why you do them. But when you see other people do their thing, it may not make sense to you at all.

People may encounter the same situation but will have different interpretations of it. Let’s say one of the directors of the company has been booted out and has been replaced by a younger, more hip, member who does things quite in an unorthodox manner.

A colleague of yours who have previously worked side by side with the director that has been removed might see this situation as a setback.

The colleague thinks that the company is letting go of a director who is established in the company, doesn’t rock the boat and have worked well with others.

The colleague is afraid that removing the director will disrupt the current dynamics and processes of the organization.

From your point of view, you may see this as an improvement. A new blood has been injected to the organization and would bring new, fresh ideas which you think the company needs.

You see the new director as a visionary that would take the company to greater heights.Same situation, but we can’t say the same for the thoughts. Two different point of views but both makes sense, isn’t it?

What we think of situations is greatly influences by a lot of factors – what are our beliefs in life, how we were raised, what culture we belong to, and so on. We state them as facts not as interpretations because of how our thinking was formed.

With that said, a leader has to be mindful of his actions as the people across the organization will have their interpretation of his actions.

Think about how to communicate and how to create situations that make the people feel better about themselves. Think how they can be empowered through your actions. Think how they can be more active participants in making the decisions.

Law Number Two: How a situation occurs, arises in language.

Let’s talk about Helen Keller, she was deaf and  blind and started sign language only when she was 8 years old. And that moment of discovering communication, she felt that the world opened up to her. She understood the impact of communication

To us who always had access to it, it something we don’t think of as much. However, language holds so much power in our everyday lives.

In the Three Laws of Performance, the conversations we have is called a racket. And these are its elements:

Persistent Complaint – Let’s go back again to that hypothetical colleague who’s skeptical on the new director.

The colleague will always notice how the new director is not doing things the way the old director did work. The colleague will always complain about the differences.

Fixed way of behaving – Because of these changes, the colleague will not feel motivated at work anymore. He will feel despondent and low-spirited.

Payoff – There’s a chance that the colleague is right about the new director. In this case, there is a feeling of being vindicated. The feeling of being right all along – it’s the payoff.

Cost – What will happen due to these collective actions? Because of the colleague’s mindset, he won’t be productive at work. And not being useful means one thing – you are no longer contributing to the work.

The colleague’s poor performance will consequently affect the work of his team as well.  The cost of his actions might lead him to his termination.

The leader should know how to handle conversations, understand the power it holds in the organization. Lead conversations that veer away from persistent complaints.

Law Number Three: Future based language that transforms how situations occur to people

Going back to that colleague again, with the new director he feels that the future is not looking bright. Whereas you see the situation as something positive, you feel good about the changes.

Your colleague’s vision of the future is an opposite of what you see but they are both valid in your own points of views. In the Three Laws of Performance this is known as the default future.

We all have our own default future and that doesn’t change until we decide to do so.

However, we can’t change our future without eliminating our current mindset of the “future”. How can we do this? We need to use future based language.

Using this kind of language changes the future ahead. Take for example Michael Luther King’s speech, “I Have a Dream”. It’s a speech that moved forward the Civil Rights Movement further.

We can change the future by getting a fresh slate – a new canvas. How do we set this up?  Let’s get back to the situation of you and your colleague and the new director.

Know that what’s preventing us to understand is because of language. Your colleague is actually bound by the same – the language. He has set his interpretation of the situation as facts.

Next, ask a question. “Is this the future that we want?”. And finally, is to clean up the situations that your previous racket has caused.

To illustrate this, your colleague can address this by explaining to the team his reason of demotivation and lack of participation. There will also be an action to get rid of the rackets he started.

With recognizing these, a new future can now be built!

The future created must have these three principles:

  1. Influence people to act upon it.
  2. It communicates to everyone in the organization.
  3. And they are present in current language and conversations.

Ask questions that inspires action to create a new future. Create conversations that do the same – people acting on building a new future. As you build these conversations, the future is also being built as things exist in language.

Of course, you would still be encountering people like the colleague mentioned earlier and it appears that nothing can change their mind.

What you can do, create a conversation – ask what can be done to remedy the situation. What is their alternative course of action?

As a leader, you should continuously work on communicating to everyone, until all is committed in changing the future.


Remember the three laws of performance: how people perform correlates to how situations occur to them, how a situation occurs – arises in language, and future based language that transforms how situations occur to people.

A leader should create a situation and conversations that inspires people to create a new and better future!




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