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The Capacity Conundrum


Every time I turn my Bluetooth speaker on a voice booms forth declaring, "Battery 50%."


It's helpful information. When the battery gets low, I know to plug the speaker in to ensure it remains on for my listening pleasure.


As I've gone through what's unexpectedly been a whirlwind of a week, I've been very mindful of the limits of my capacity.


Unlike my speaker, the urge to say yes often clashes with my inner battery levels. Whereas my speaker would just stop playing music, I can artificially boost my energy to power through.


This is a tactic I rarely use anymore. The cost of pushing ahead when I am running on empty is not insignificant. The further I deplete myself, the greater my recovery time and effort are.


Sadly, the first thing that tends to fall by the wayside when the demands of life and work outpace our capacity is self-care. This perpetuates a viscous cycle of never enough because we aren't recharging our inner batteries like we need to. This is the capacity conundrum.


In the last week, I had to remind myself to slow down in order to maintain a sustainable velocity of my efforts.


There was so much new information coming at me every few minutes that it was easy for me to get sucked into the minutia. It all seemed highly important and relevant, demanding of my time, attention and energy. It felt like caring meant I had to say yes to everything.


And what's harder, I wanted to say yes to everything! That's because I told myself that saying yes to it all ensured my sense of belonging and connection within the greater community.


This is, perhaps an element of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that's not often explored. What if the more deep seeded fear is exclusion or rejection. It's possible that FOMO is triggered because of our hardwired need for connection and belonging.


In that instance, it's not just about missing out on the fun. It's a matter of maintaining status as one who is worthy of being included.


It lends itself to a simple equation. Yes = belonging. No = Isolation.


Our brains tend to oversimplify things in such moments. That is one of the side-effects of habits, a complete disconnection with the subtleties and nuances at play.


Indeed, any community worth belonging in is willing to accept that we all have limits to our capacity. And that our place within that community is maintained not because we say yes ad nauseam, but because we are authentically ourselves. Individuals with inner batteries that need to be maintained and recharged in order to contribute effectively to our collective efforts.


Wholehearted leaders are mindful of creating spaces that honor our needs for both belonging and self-care. They recognize that there's a give and take in order to maintain ones' capacity to give sustainably.


What's more, wholehearted leaders engage in shared leadership practices. They allow for those who have capacity to take the lead and run with things so others may take much needed time and space to rejuvenate. Like running a relay race, the pressure to perform is shared, which lessens the demands on any one individual.


When we engage with people in more heart centered and holistic ways, we create the sense of safety and belonging needed to give our best. That's because people know they are accepted regardless of their capacity to give more. They no longer feel the pressure to chose giving past their capacity over self-care. So they contribute in meaningful ways without depletion because they aren't stuck in the capacity conundrum.

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