by Robert Glazer
In 2011, I reached a crossroads in my leadership journey, asking myself if I was the leader my company needed me to be.
My business was growing, but I had completely maxed myself out in the process. I had a small team around me, but I was filling multiple roles and resisting delegation. At the time I thought I was practicing self-reliance, I was also acting from a place of fear. I realized I needed to grow as a leader in order to lead a large organization, and I was avoiding that challenge.
My company has grown exponentially in the past eight years, and that growth started when I looked in the mirror and decided that I needed to put in the work necessary to become the leader the business needed. I made a commitment to build my capacity. What I’ve learned in the past eight years is that the ability to elevate your performance and achieve at a high level stems directly from challenging your limits and building your capacity for growth. When you do this for yourself, you encourage others to follow. Unlocking this potential—in business and in life—has become an ongoing quest.
Capacity building is the method through which we seek, acquire and develop the skills necessary to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of our innate potential. It is the foundation of my leadership approach to building a world-class company and the primary focus of my new book, Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others.
In my own leadership journey, and in speaking with hundreds of others who have made lasting, meaningful improvements in their lives, I’ve discovered that there are four essential elements involved in capacity-building and all self-improvement:
Elevating your performance holistically requires improving these four areas through consistent, incremental growth. It’s not enough to excel in some of these areas, but not all. If one capacity is weaker than the others, it will inevitably keep you from reaching your ideal level of performance.
Here’s how to understand each element, and a tip to grow in each one:
#1: Spiritual: What Matters Most?
Our spiritual capacity relates to who we are, what we want most from life, and how we align our daily actions to those things. It requires us to reflect deeply on what motivates us and to discover and articulate our core values and purpose. Building spiritual capacity is necessary to create a life that fulfils you—if you don’t have a destination in mind, you may waste a lot of time and energy running in the wrong direction. A good way to start is to determine your core values—take time to carefully reflect on what matters to you. When are you happy and fulfilled? In what settings do you feel frustrated and drained? You’ll notice consistent words or phrases that come to mind. As a personal example, I am always focused on finding ways to improve myself and to help others—family, friends, colleagues—to improve as well. In that vein, one of my core values, and in fact, my core purpose, is to find a better way, and share it. Going through life without core values is like navigating without a GPS. Focus on what matters to you and pursue that.
#2: Intellectual: Build Disciplined Routines
Intellectual capacity is about how we improve our ability to think, learn, plan, and execute with discipline. Developing our intellectual capacity often involves setting and achieving goals, developing good routines and habits, and learning continuously. Think of it as improving your operating system. Your ability to achieve each day starts with how you spend your morning. Most high achievers I’ve met have a set routine: They use the first 30-60 minutes of the day to consider what they are grateful for, set their intention for the day, and ignore distractions like social media, negative cable news, or their inbox. Doing this, even if you start by getting up 15 minutes earlier and spending time meditating or journaling, will help you start the day on the offence.
#3: Physical: Remember your health
Physical capacity is our ability to improve our health, wellbeing, and physical performance. Your brain seems like it’s doing most of the work in a given day, but your body is the vessel that you live your life in, and in order to perform well, you have to keep your body strong and energized. If your body is weak, your focus, mental stamina and even your cognitive ability will suffer as well. Building physical capacity goes beyond just diet and exercise. A great way to start is focusing on stress management. Stress is often treated as an inevitability of life, and functioning under heavy stress, or on little sleep, is often considered heroic. You have to control your own schedule to combat stress—schedule 15 minute breaks throughout the day, and, whenever possible, get eight hours of sleep each night. You’ll notice a difference in your energy and focus.
#4: Emotional: Think about your relationships
Emotional capacity determines how we react to challenging situations and people, as well as the quality of our relationships. Improving emotional capacity requires us to understand our feelings, accepting a certain amount of uncertainty in our daily lives, and figure out how to play to our strengths. A great start is to focus on your self-limiting beliefs. No matter how confident we think we are, we all have doubts and fears that can hold us back if we do not confront them. As a personal example: For years, I wanted to write a book, but I kept giving myself excuses to avoid doing it. That changed in 2016; while I was in the second year of a three year entrepreneurial masters program, I made a commitment that I would write a book by the time I reached my third year. Simply changing my affirmation from, “I want to write a book,” to “I will write a book,” gave me the extra push I needed. In the three years since I made that emotional change, I have written and published two books. I built the emotional capacity I needed to do it.
Being purposeful, talented and energized isn’t enough; you also need to make sure that the inevitable adversity life throws at you doesn’t derail your progress.
One of the most important outcomes of building your Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, and Emotional Capacity is the exponential impact it has on others, including friends, family, and those you lead. We each owe it to the people closest to us to be the best version of ourselves, and to inspire them to be their best as well.
Interested in raising your game? Use these four areas of capacity building to springboard to a fulfilling life.