Capability vs. Capacity

The desire to do it all yourself is powerful. The idea that you can do everything on your own without others is so intoxicating that it can often sneak up on you. One day you’re at your peak and the next you’re stumbling, trying to figure out what went wrong. Recently I’ve been learning to cope with this, coming to the realization that there’s a difference between capability and capacity.

Capability can be thought of as anything you confidently know or could figure out easily. Capacity, however, refers to the resources you have to complete a task: time, energy, or money. The mistake that’s easy to make is assuming these two things are the same. In other words, we may be perfectly capable of completing a task, but may not have the capacity to do so. Where we get stuck is feeling like a doofus for knowing how to do something perfectly well, but failing to find the time to complete it.

Lately, I’ve been hitting a lot of limits. Work has become all I do and as I’ve learned the hard way before, when that’s the case it’s the prologue to burnout. You can only sustain a non-stop schedule for so long. After awhile it wears thin, no matter how prepared you are (or think you are). Fixing this problem—”being capable of everything but only having the capacity for some—is a matter of taming the ego.

When you can’t do it all yourself, it’s easy to think that you’re screwing up. That if you just tweak this or that, you’ll be able to add that extra thing to your plate. Not so. When you hit the point where you just cannot keep up, you have two options: drop the ball or get help.

This is where my head has been at lately. I’ve gone through several loops of trying to do it all myself, each with the same lesson at the end. It’s possible, for awhile, but eventually human instinct kicks in. You need a break. Not just physically, but mentally. The brain can and will be overworked if you allow it to be.

I’ve noticed that the more I try to keep up, the more details are missed. Stuff that I know how to do well, but in an overwhelmed pinch is missed. This isn’t ideal, so I’ve decided to slow down. Instead of doing it all alone, I’m starting to invest more in building a team. Financially my resources are limited, but I’m learning that investing even a little bit in getting help is incredibly valuable. Not having to remember to do something is like removing a weight from your brain; freeing you to get the other things right.

I must say, getting help does wonders for your ability to relax. It’s not cheap, but spending a little bit of money to avoid skidding out seems worth it. My assumption is that with help, I’ll be better focused on the things that will allow me to afford it in the long run. Time will tell.