147: Operating at Reduced Capacity

147: Operating at Reduced Capacity

♟️ Strategy

I got sick this week so I'm writing you a letter about how to operate at reduced capacity.

Cultivating Resilience is a weekly newsletter about rebounding from setbacks and reinventing the future—by 3x founder and executive coach Jason Shen.

After an uncommonly adventurous weekend, which included day trips to Flushing, NY for authentic Taiwanese noodles and mochi desserts, as a stop to view sculpture and installation art at Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center, I fell sick.

As the workweek commenced, I felt a weariness in my body that first made me question my morning Peloton session (did I push too hard on that last sprint with Ally?). But as the afternoon rolled on and my usual Monday stamina failed me, I realized I was not well.

Taking all precautions, I slept in my office. My watch congratulated me the next morning for surpassing my 8 hour sleep goal for the first time in weeks. Multiple rapid tests and even a PCR came back negative for COVID so even as I'm feeling better on Saturday, this mystery illness remains unsolved.

Trying to get through the week at 60% required some careful balancing. I let my team know I wasn't at full power, but still attended most of my meetings that week as I had an important leadership review on Friday.

When your capacity is reduced, your expectations for your output must change.

This might sound obvious but too often high-achievers set goals and then are unwilling to compromise on them despite obvious changes in capacity. Numerous psychology papers tell us that we are bad at planning because we are overly optimistic. We make plans based on everything going right.

Unfortunately, things rarely go right. At which point, our plans are off-track.

When operating at reduced capacity, cancel extraneous activities to prioritize the most critical ones.

This week, I bailed on my biweekly Sidebar call, declined a last-minute VC request from a friend, cancelled another planned call with a friend, and skipped my weekly writing review with my assistant Rhea. I also did almost nothing for this week's newsletter.

I felt bad cutting back in all these ways because I wasn't deathly ill. But I had to preserve my strength to prepare the deck for my review, and to lead the first workshop of the 6 week Resilience Rules support series, both on Friday. I'm happy to report that both the workshop and review went well, and I am largely recovered.

Seek help when you are operating at reduced capacity.

I leaned on friends to help me stay upbeat during this week (shoutout Elisa for the idea for this newsletter topic). My wife ordered dinner on several nights so we could not worry about getting groceries and cooking. And my team members rallied to bring the presentation to where we needed it for the review.

I'm grateful to have had that support. But it started with telling people that I wasn't at full capacity and that I needed help.

When you are at reduced capacity, you must devote time and effort to recovery.

Self-care is a worn out phrase, but the idea that you must invest in your increased capacity is real.

  • If you are physically inactive and live a sedentary life, you are operating at reduced capacity.
  • If you have a small social circle and no close friends, you are operating at reduced capacity.
  • If you get inordinately angry or sad on a regular basis and you're not sure why, you're operating at reduced capacity.

It takes time, effort, and even money to become more physically powerful, connect with acquaintances and make friends, and heal from traumatic experiences. But these are investments in your well-being, and your capacity to achieve your goals and enjoy your life.

I went to bed early, got up as late as possible, and took it easy in the evenings rather than work on projects or get on calls. I wrote this letter on Saturday because I didn't have anything else ready.

It was a boring week, a less productive one. But in the end, I was successful in the areas I cared most about, and I am on track to be at full capacity very soon.

Hope you are doing well and taking care of yourself,


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