One of the biggest yet least known problems that established business owner’s face that they don’t realize has to do with assessing their work capacity. By capacity, I mean the total amount of work you, your team, and the company can perform, recover from and adapt positively to. Overestimating what you can take on, endure, and achieve leads to cascading problems that keep you from growth and getting things done. It is one of the worst forms of self-sabotage that no one wants to address, yet the effects are systemic throughout your business and life.  

Understanding exactly how deadly this habit is, is essential to cutting it out prevention.

The opportunity here is two-fold: If you can more accurately assess your capacity and estimate the effort required, you’ll be able to outperform your competitors who struggle with a systemic problem. Most businesses have no real sense for their true work capacity. So listen up and pay attention.

If you’re like many business owners, overestimating your capacity leads to the following:

1. Every bit of work feels like a sprint.

You and your team are always behind. This is an indicator that you’re overextended. If your bottom line is based on unsustainable, never-ending sprints, then there’s a systemic flaw in the business design. Stop denying it, avoiding it, and duct taping workarounds for it. You are not a victim. This is usually self-induced, and even when it’s not you have a choice to do something about it. Address it head-on by refining the design. No matter how it happened it’s ultimately your responsibility to address it and optimize your business.

2. Much of work time is spent constantly shopping for solutions, tools, tactics, easy buttons, and other unicorns.

Shopping for easy buttons is a symptom of an addiction to help you cope with the denial of the problem. You are the only one who can do the work.

Recognize that by perpetually shopping for marketing and sales “solutions” you’re trying to numb, sedate and distract yourself. Maybe it’s not shopping to purchase tools, maybe its shopping to consume content. It can be books, podcasts, conferences and programs, courses, you name it. Anything that sidelines you from facing the dragons that are dragging you down and holding you back. It’s time to step up brother.

You are lost in a loop of shopping and consuming; hoping versus creating. The truth is more likely than not, that there is no easy button exists that will solve these problems.

You’re using your consumption habit to sedate, numb, evade and put off addressing the underlying issue and the real problem that needs to be solved. This usually means your behaviors and/or processes need to be refined.

If you combine your denial beliefs and your shopping habit, what you get is a habit of shopping for tactical solutions and actively turning down strategic and transformative growth opportunities. If you’re anxious and depressed all the time from not addressing the real roots of your problem, then you’re robbing yourself of energy needed to attack your day.  

If you truly want to grow your business, or just take more money and time home, you are shopping in the wrong store. These problems require strategic solutions not band-aid tactics. This is like shopping for wife material at a strip club. You’re going about it all wrong, and deep down you know it, but you’re having such a good time,  sedated, distracted, and feeling good at the moment, that you don’t want to admit it.

3. Frequent or Perpetual Burnout

You go home, have family time until it’s absolutely necessary to return back to the heap of anxiety you call your business. Then it’s rinse and repeat. And you can address all the symptoms you want, but if you don’t start looking for root causes, you’re more likely than not to repeat this pattern and prevent your growth and success.

Buried beneath all the BS, all of these problems stem from the same seemingly innocuous habit, that is hiding right in front of you. It all starts with you perpetually biting off more than you can chew. The problem is the nasty habit of overestimating your capacity and underestimating the effort required to achieve your goals.

You may honestly believe you’re capable of achieving it all, or you may be addicted to the anxiety that is often confused with the feeling of productivity, business, or flow. That ain’t a state of flow you’re feeling brother trust me.

Don’t confuse anxiety for productivity.

The point is – this all stems from the one-two punch of overestimating your capacity and filling your calendar with too much stuff so that nothing gets done, and on the rare occasion it is done, it’s really half-ass. Then you’re topping it off by underestimating the work required to get things done in the first place.

Start your path by identifying, acknowledging the problem and declaring it.

Let yourself know, and let your team know that YOU KNOW what the problem is and YOU ARE working on it. This will buy you at least enough time and grace to read the next parts of this series and learn how to further address the problem by understanding its causes, and how to treat all of it.

These demons thrive in the silence, and the unarticulated thoughts. They thrive by being pushed out of your awareness. See them. Name them. Declare them. Drag them kicking and screaming into the light so you no longer allow them to hold you back.

4. Lots of idea generation and goal setting without realistic time frames attached to them

And the sad part is, there isn’t even enough time to provide clear instructions, write anything down, or take 3 breaths to reflect and recognize what is going on.

You are not a visionary, nor idea man if your ideas can’t bear the scrutiny of being written down, if only for yourself to review. Writing them down is the price of entry, and the ideas themselves do not get you in the game of strategic play at the empire level. And even most established owners, don’t take the time to write ANYTHING down.

They don’t have the clarity of mind to commit to a course of action for any length of time in the first place. And if they do, they struggle to cultivate discipline to commit to those plans.

5. Teams are flooded with unrealistic expectations, projects, and goals that end up crippling production,  productivity, morale, and power of the team, the leader, and the owner.

This leads to nonperformance that will sour relationships with other key stakeholders, partners, and investors. It all stems from not knowing which/ how many initiatives can be reasonably achieved by you and your team.

6. “Planning” is believed to be a waste of time.

When you’re always in sprint mode, you can only afford to be reactive, with your focus on the present and nearest term and nothing left for the longer term.

You know that strategic businesses are more sustainable and profitable, but you don’t have the time to believe in that, as it would force you to face your fear and acknowledge the mistakes you’re making on a day to day basis. So you cope through denial.

This denial has many layers. You deny your work mode isn’t strategic, you claim that being all tactical right now is your strategy. Then you play the sour grapes card and claim planning is a waste of time, and go on making excuses for never planning or doing any strategic work on your business. Because things change and never go according to plan, there’s no point. Except there are a few parts you’re leaving out – your failure to stick to your fucking plans when you do make them for one, you self sabotaging or sandbagging at the first sign of difficulty for another.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS WHY 96% OF BUSINESSES DO NOT SURVIVE TO THEIR 10TH BIRTHDAY.

No one is serving you by withholding the truth. The stakes are real and they matter. The stakes of this game are your livelihood and business. If this is news to you, then it’s time to fire your life coach and hire someone with the cojones to tell you the truth and have enough faith in you to solve your real problems.

7. Blame is projected down and throughout the company. Good employees, partners, and key relationships are lost

I’ll grant some grace most owners aren’t aware that they’re often avoiding relationship and resorting to blaming and scapegoating, it happens somewhat unconsciously. We love to victimize ourselves and rarely find it convenient to recognize when we’re the villains and perpetrators.

Here’s a fresh cup of clarity for you. You are not a victim. You have a choice. Your next choice is what to do with what is now and what’s next.

That is not the only good news.  You can take solace in the fact that your competitors are just as guilty and susceptible to these behaviors, and the difference between them and you, is that you’re reading this, you are aware of it, you can do something about it.

They won’t. They will likely sit in their rut blame their team, and distract themselves by firing their way into oblivion.

But then again, maybe they will. Maybe they are reading this too. Maybe they are aware. Maybe they’re addressing these issues, and it is really you who needs to find ways to keep up.

Let’s fast forward 5 short years.

5 years from now, if you keep this self-sabotaging behavior going, guess where the business is at?

Best case scenario your business is right where it is now, but that’s only 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time, the business tanks, because changes do come, in areas you weren’t predicting, and you have no free time, energy, or attention to pack a parachute or a life jacket let alone a raft for yourself or your team. The business goes under.

Can you afford more problems? That’s what lies in store if you don’t address these issues – a dumpster fire full of problems?

So are you ready to stop this crazy cycle? Are you ready to get help and do something about it? Are you ready to address it and in doing so have a sustainable competitive edge on which you can grow from?

If you’re experiencing or doing any of these you might be overestimating the capacity of yourself, your team and/or your company. Start investigating this keystone habit.  Do you want to know what the upside and opportunities are if you address this problem – read this next.