• Steve Doughty

Can we really do anything?

Updated: Mar 12

We have been sold a line that says "our ability is limitless". I get the sentiment but are we setting ourselves up? I think so!


The rhetoric around our ability to do anything when we have the right attitude may have been oversold. When we discover that we have limitations, the dichotomy that exists between desire and ability kicks in.

Like most things in life, context is everything. How many interviews have you been to where just after you finished telling them about your strengths, they asked you to point out your weaknesses? We don't actually have weaknesses, they are just a way of describing our strengths out of context.

Maybe you are, or know someone that is confident, an excellent presenter, they are persuasive and make a lot of sense when they are talking, let's call that a strength. Now you are out with friends and someone is dominating the conversation, trying to get others to agree with them and literally taking over the occasion. It's the same person but the context has changed.

Aligning our skills with context is important. In our work we frequently end up morphing in to wider responsibilities and tasks that can create difficulty. We may think we are stressed because we are so busy and just have too much to do. I contend that it is often not the amount of work, it is the type of work. Just because we are good at what we are doing in one context, that same skill may not be evident in another.

Busyness does not always create stress. Being busy with the wrong things definitely does. We may have energy and willingness to contribute, but this can end up being misdirected and lead to less motivation and less output.

The fix is not trying harder or being more positive, it is being more aligned.

In any organisation it is important to identify what you are setting out to achieve, determine a strategy to execute those plans and identify the people and mix of skills you need to get there.

Then it is not just sticking to the plan, it is about keeping your people aligned with their strengths. Equally if you are a team member, take responsibility to keep yourself aligned with your own strengths. Yes, allow yourself to be stretched and take on new challenges, that is important but just remember one thing... your ability is not limitless.

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