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Building Capacity

When you first think of capacity you might think of a limit.  That’s one place to start, but I want to mold the definition further from there.  What is my current capacity?  You could apply this thought to your physical life, your professional life, your relationships or perhaps even your ability to think, reason, and function in life.

I think back to my youth playing video games where you could “level up” and increase an ability level or have extra reserves.  Is this possible in our lives?  If it is, are we willing to take the risks and the toll that is necessary to go through it?

I recently heard someone say we can either fail a thousand small failures and become a success or not fail at all and become a failure.  This resonates with my soul because much of my experience building capacity has come by risk, trial, and overcoming pressure and pain.

As many of you know, I finished up the Race Across America a few months ago.  By the grace of God, my 14 faithful crew members, and unbelievable community support, we managed to be official finishers. We covered the 3,069 miles of the course in 11 days 21 hours and 3 minutes with less than three hours to spare before the time cut off.  Leading up to this race I spent 18 months training to have a chance at competing.   I “increased my capacity” during this time leaps and bounds from where I had started.  It is always reassuring to me to know that where I am now is not where I have to be in the future.  Physical discipline is a relatable illustration, where at each training checkpoint you can see your improvement.

This same idea of building capacity transfers to our professional lives.  When I was teaching I remember hearing the phrase, “some teachers teach for 20 years and other teachers teach one year and repeat that year 20 times”.  The distinction is that if you are growing in your profession you are likely to be much more competent and effective the longer you are there.  If you refuse to take on challenges, risks, and obstacles you might find yourself repeating the same lessons over and over with very little progress or change.

Another area of capacity growth I’ve recently experienced is in connection to community.  The power of our friends, co-workers, and all those we interact with is not easily put into words.  It is our spouses, families, close friends, co-workers and neighbors that can give us so much resilience and fortitude in our lives if we connect with them.  I’ve always been a strong proponent of building strong connections with people but had never experienced it quite like I did those 12 days crossing this great country on a bicycle.

As I have now returned from this journey and am back to my “normal” life I feel like I am a different person.  I am no longer the man I was when I left.  My capacities have grown so quickly in such a short time it is difficult to describe.  The reason this is so powerful for me is the knowledge that we all can grow that quickly if we put ourselves outside out there and take on opportunities far beyond what we are comfortable with. 

Stepping into the fray and leaning into the fear and the pain is all a part of the process of growth. I feel so much more prepared to be an outstanding husband, father, fellow Rotarian, business partner, and community member.  I am no longer who I used to be, and I hope that you seek to do the same. 

Rob DeCou