Published on April 18th, 2012 | by thevyne


Capacity vs. Capability

By Keesha B.

Have you noticed lately when you ask people how they’re doing the response you get is “I’m exhausted!” or “It’s crazy these days!” or “Girrrrrlllll…..” It’s as if the floodgates of balls to juggle and plates to spin opened up and now everyone is twirling like a whirling dervish to keep it all up in the air. You could choose to blame it on the economy and convince yourself there’s a way to spin plates and juggle balls at the same time. Or perhaps you can see the situation for what it is. By that I mean, a symptom of the capacity vs. capability problem.

If you feel like you’re in a whirling dervish state of mind it’s probably because you’ve loaded yourself up with capacity related events. Capacity related events are those experiences in life that seem to only test your ability to push through, deliver faster, crank it out, make it happen, check the box, get it done and “make the donuts” so to speak. It’s those activities in life that can easily pile up like those chocolates on the conveyor belt in that “I Love Lucy” episode. Work life and home life is filled with these capacity related events and we often try to manage the chaos of them by doing exactly what Lucy did in that episode…eat the chocolate. Instead of slowing down the conveyor belt so the chocolate doesn’t pile up Lucy chose to eat the chocolate. She chose to cram handful after handful of chocolate into her mouth while still trying to package the rest of the fast approaching chocolate coming down the belt. Metaphorically speaking, this is what it can feel like when your life is filled and unbalanced with capacity related events…like you’re running two speeds slower than your life’s conveyor belt.

I have a theory. The theory is this; the best way to manage a life of capacity related events is to balance it out with capability related events. Capability related events are those experiences in life that stimulate your thinking, stretch your creativity, test your mojo, charge your battery and spark new skills or interests. It’s about regularly shutting off the conveyor belt to deliberately expose yourself to experiences that will refuel you and that will allow you to play in and with your capability.

While the thought of stopping your conveyor belt may sound like blasphemy or a recipe for disaster (a la broken spinning plates, dropped juggled balls, too much chocolate—pick your metaphor) consider the alternative; the alternative of pushing yourself to capacity until you max out, feel bad, force yourself to muster it up and push through only to max back out again. If you truly want to manage your capacity related life events, take the time to stop and balance yourself back out with capability related life events. You’d be surprised at the impact…your mind/body/spirit will thank you.

Having trouble figuring out what capability experiences to try? Here are a few to consider:

  • Enroll in a language class
  • Attend a conference simply because it interests you
  • Take up an intramural sport you always wanted to learn
  • Enroll in a college course that you always wanted to take but didn’t because it wasn’t in your major
  • Try tackling a fear that you’ve been harboring
  • Take an acting or improv class
  • Explore a new hobby that you never thought you would
  • Lend your talent to a volunteer organization that could use it

About the Author

One Response to Capacity vs. Capability

  1. Dee says:

    great article!!thanks for the reality check, Keesha!! 🙂

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