I have identified 9 integral and relevant capacities that influence your ability to engage others, succeed in business and enjoy your life. When you review the capacities, you might notice a correlation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. [1]

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How This Works

When the 3 Essential Capacities are compromised it is more difficult to develop and sustain the Interactive Capacities. Maintenance of the 3 Leadership Capacities is temporary if the Essential Capacities are not tended to, and may be impossible if you do not have ability with the 3 Interactive Capacities.

Though the nine capacities are presented here in linear format, they are not linear. The capacities cannot be separated from each other. They are fluid and ever-changing. Ability or disability in one capacity influences the others.

The 3 Essential Capacities

The Essential Capacities are just that: essential. They reflect your relationship to yourself, and your personal relationship with the immediate world around you. They strongly correlate with your ability to tend to your basic needs in life.

Physical - one's ability to carry out the tasks at hand. Furthermore, the ability to recognize the bounds of one’s physical strength or stamina and to act accordingly.

Mental - the ability to think and learn, having the bandwidth to see what is around you, to step back and observe and contemplate and consider, awareness, intuitiveness, understanding.

Emotional - the ability to live peacefully with some uncertainty, to weather stormy circumstances. The ability to include facts, intuition and gut-level responses in the small and big decisions. Resilience, awareness, empathy, courage and ease with ambiguity.

The 3 Interactive Capacities

The 3 Interactive Capacities point to your ability to engage effectively with the world around you. As you go about your business on any given day, you will likely interact with people, projects, and information. Each of the 3 Interactive Capacities gauge your ability to make decisions and take actions that most likely lead to the best outcomes. If you go overboard in any of these areas you are likely to experience a feeling of being overwhelmed. If you are operating below optimum capacity you are likely to experience recurring disappointment and tension between yourself and others.

Relational - the ability to connect and be present with the person(s) in front of you, to see another person with empathy and to engage in a way appropriate to the relationship and situation.

Responsive - the ability to respond to what life throws your way with measure and clarity, to be able to view the situation and act in an appropriate manner. To know when it's time to press forward, and when it is time to let go.

Productive - the ability to focus and produce a wanted result.

The 3 Leadership Capacities

The Leadership Capacities point to your ability to stand "alone" when called for, to embrace your unique perspective and share it with others.

Creative - the ability to take an innovative approach to seeing what is in front of you, or see beyond it. Whereas productive capacity points to your ability to engage with the tasks of daily life, creative capacity points to your ability to consider the projects or task in front of you and to devise new views, methods or solutions.

Vocal - the ability to speak up, and express what you stand for. The ability to lead others. For example, whereas relational capacity points to your ability to engage in conversation with others, vocal capacity points to your ability to speak up in the face of potential disagreement, to express yourself authentically.

Collaborative - the ability to work with a group of people and create order and/or structure through which actions can be effectively carried out.

When you have developed ability in all 9 areas, you can expect to be less overwhelmed, and that any tendency to over commit or overwork will be lessened. You’ll be more effective in making daily decisions. Distractions will have less impact, overexertion will diminish, worry will come upon you less frequently (and for less time) and you will accomplish more of what actually matters.

Remember, too, this is not about perfection.


[1] Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top.