I was having a conversation with one of the people I mentor. This person was in a new job, working incredibly long hours, and was exhausted.

I shared the following idea:

Know Your Own Limits

Every living being in the universe has limits. As human beings, we can only work so much before we start to fall apart.

There’s only so much sleep deprivation we can handle before we start to fall apart.

Our bones can only take so much force before they break.

Our psyche can only tolerate so much social isolation until our mental health degrades rapidly.

There are only two types of people in the world:

  1. Those who are aware of their limits.
  2. Those who are not aware of their limits.

When I interview executives on behalf of my clients, one of the things I look for in a C-level hire is whether they know their limits.

For example, it is impossible to be good at everything. To be a C-level officer, it’s not necessary to be good at everything needed for that job. What is necessary is knowing what you’re not good at so you know who your first hire will be after you get the job.

If you can’t work 100-hour workweeks for months in a row without being miserable, that’s okay. Just figure out what you can or are willing to do (what works for you) and make career decisions that acknowledge that truth. (Perhaps you’ll delegate more, say “no” more often, or even change jobs to something that’s a better fit, given your limits.)

If you can’t tolerate talking to people all day, every day for work, that’s okay. Just acknowledge (to yourself) that you have a limit there and shift your career direction or work to include more activities that don’t involve interacting with others quite so much.

Nearly every limitation can be worked around. The only limitations that can’t be worked around are the ones you pretend don’t exist.

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