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Visionary Lessons on Capacity and Capability

With each season along this visionary journey, I start to understand more deeply some of the factors that influence the longevity and sustainability of my vision, dreams, and goals. One major factor that plays a big part in the process is understanding how my present capacity and capability may determine how I navigate moments of frustration, growth, or shifts when developing or accommodating different layers of my visionary pursuits. These lessons have been valuable for me, and I think they will prove valuable for you, too. So, let's dive in and unpack some visionary lessons on capacity and capability...

Capability Capability, by definition is the literal ability, skill, or talent you have to do something (Oxford languages). It may be emotional, mental, physical, intellectual, even financial, depending on the need or what you may be trying to perform or implement. Your capability may demonstrate that you have the skill and talent to do something, regardless of whether it’s the right time to utilize it or not. And, many times your capability is not always outright recognized by you, but often seen and pointed out by others that know you and see you operate. Capability is often influenced by an ability or talent to do something, and also may be motivated by aptitude (definition: the natural ability to do something [Oxford languages]). However, a big key in this point is -- even if you’re capable, it does NOT mean you have to do, use, or apply your capabilities to all situations, whether it's applicable at that very moment or not. We'll talk more about this later.

However, a big key in this point is -- even if you’re capable, it does NOT mean you have to do, use, or apply your capabilities to all situations, whether it's applicable at that very moment or not.

Capacity Now, there’s also capacity, and capacity often has to do with the ability to contain something, receive something, or expand to accommodate something. Again, by definition, it's the maximum amount something can contain or produce at that given moment (Oxford languages).

Many times, we may confuse our capability to do something based on our capacity. Capacity can oftentimes dictate how much we are able to establish, develop, and/or apply something we may be capable of doing. And in the same way capability can often determine what level of capacity we are willing to accommodate something or even someone into our vision.

The obstacles we face surrounding our capacity may be due to time, physical constraints, or even current demands. Furthermore, it does not mean those restraints are entirely a bad thing. However, many times, because of the intensity of life circumstances, or the discouragement that may try to come in along our visionary journey, or even the uncertainty that can come along with different seasons in life, we may default and assume that we don’t have the capacity to do something because we have not had the time to steward, tap into, and/or cultivate our capability in that area. However, it also does not mean that your visionary capability is somehow diminished if your capacity is not yet accommodating, and vice versa.

So what do we do?

Any time there is a perceived shift (whether expected or unexpected) to your vision, goals, or dreams that may be attributed to a variety of factors, it's important to intricately understand how capacity and capability relate, and then give yourself the space to ask yourself: If I have the capacity, am I capable? If I am capable, do I have capacity?

If I have the capacity, am I capable? If I am capable, do I have capacity?

As a few points of reflection:

  • If the answer is yes to capacity, but no to capability, but you’re willing to learn, then be willing to allot the capacity to develop and test out the extent of your capability.

  • If your answer is yes to capability, but no to capacity, evaluate whether you are okay with letting something else go, in order to engage in what you’re both passionate about, as well as capable of when it comes to your vision, goals, or dreams.

  • And if you don’t have the capacity, even after evaluating the opportunity, and have to let the opportunity go, even if were capable of it, as best as you can, try not to beat yourself up or get frustrated if it doesn't work out at that time. Many times your priorities are just that, your priorities, and that's okay. Although it can feel discouraging at the moment, and not how you expected something to pan out, I am a firm believer that the opportunities that are truly meant for you will come back around at the best/right time for you. Even if you can't see it at the moment.

  • Finally, even if the capacity is not ideal, or even if clarity is lacking on your level of capability at that moment, sometimes just the mere presentation of something new or different may provide the motivation to start considering how to EXPAND your vision in the future. It also allows you to see further than you thought possible, and it allows you to check your priorities and determine what you're willing to accommodate every step of the way.

Now, there is so much more I can say about that, but those reflections points are designed to give you an opportunity to P A U S E and T H I N K, because it can be hard on this visionary journey in daring to be influentially visionary! However, I like to think that things that cause us to pause, think, react, or shift, are also things that are capable of helping us grow, change, or develop something new that could be the very springboard to the next level in our vision.


Many times when we feel "in over our head," it's often because we either feel overwhelmed in our capacity to respond to the task at hand, or our capability feels too stretched without the ability to shift or grow.

Now that I've given you some foundation, I want to shift gears to thinking about sustainability and how capacity and capability apply to the long-term areas of your vision. Many times when we feel "in over our head," it's often because we either feel overwhelmed in our capacity to respond to the task at hand, or our capability feels too stretched without the ability to shift or grow. Sometimes these are temporary in nature, and may just require us to mentally adjust to something that we have never encountered before. However, sometimes that tension can lead to a deeper struggle that surpasses our current limits, and if not managed accordingly, can quickly lead to things like burnout.

However, the more intentional we can be about evaluating both our current and future points of capability and capacity, the better we can get at recognizing our own internal temperature, in order to know where to ask for help, how to adjust, how much energy to expend on something, or when to defer or delegate, in order to stay sustainable in our visionary pursuits. These types of boundaries are also incredibly helpful in combatting the trap of comparison, as it helps us re-shift our focus to our own personal capabilities and capacity, and not base our current capabilities (or capacity) off of what we see somebody else doing.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, and many times maintaining a level of healthy sustainability might have to come through lived experiences, accountability, or the God-given wisdom to perceive and discern where we fall in our visionary journey. Furthermore, it's also important to remember that everything really does has have a season. So, even if it doesn't work out at that time, most of the time -- if we stay consistent, and give ourselves room to learn, develop, and to mature, we will be able to handle the moments when big changes do come to our vision that pushes us forward, as well as leads us to shine in our visionary capabilities.

PART TWO: Lessons on the cycles of vision, capacity, and capability

Lessons on the cycles of vision, capacity, and capability

The interesting thing about vision -- especially for those of us who have really big visions with multiple moving parts, and lots of different layers -- once we get a hold of it, we often want to see it all NOW! And rightly so, because we often see it before we see it. However, the key in our visionary process is understanding, once again, our current capability and our present capacity. Furthermore, how to steward, manage, or stretch when we need to stretch, as well as hold when we need to hold, doesn't always happen perfectly. BUT, I do think that in the process, eventually, as the Bible says, that all things will work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Again, if you’re willing to ask yourself those questions of self-reflection each time you're confronted with a place in your life that seems to frustrate you, pause you, stretch you, or challenge you, then you can determine how to shift your time, energy, and talents for your benefit, versus your detriment.

Practical Examples

Now, for those how have been tracking with this blog for a while, you know I often like to throw in some food or garden-related examples, so this wouldn't be a visionary nurse® lesson without one, would it? But as I was ruminating on these concepts, I thought about it this way. If someone prepares you an absolutely delicious meal of food that you know you like, but you recently just ate another really big meal prior to that one, how do you think you would receive that meal? If put in terms of capacity and capability, your capacity will often determine your ability to enjoy that meal to the fullest. You may be physically capable of eating it, but your capacity, your ability to receive it, will definitely be limited. Furthermore, it may even turn something that should innately be a delicious gift into an absolutely nauseating deterrent.

And just like that, it's also, oftentimes, the same with our vision, dreams, goals, personal sustainability, and even relationships. We may force ourselves to have capacity, when we really don’t have the capacity at that time, and then the thing we should want ends up being sickening to us. That good thing may even potentially deter us from ever wanting to ever consider that thing again.

In order to combat these moments, sometimes it's important to just consider your basic needs in the moment. Do you need to do something leisure first to make more space to handle a new task? Do you need to just take time to: sleep, rest, feel frustration and discomfort and then move forward?

And, of course, it doesn’t mean stay there forever, but it does mean you may just have to...



for those things, and give yourself some space. It's just as important to gauge your capacity to WAIT on something, just as much as it is important to gauge your capacity to push through on something.

Additionally, when embarking on new endeavors, allow yourself the space to BUILD into your capacity, BUILD with wisdom, and BUILD with grace. In the final case for sustainability, especially when navigating away from overwhelm or burnout, or trying to avoid the frustration of disappointment or discouragement that may be caused by mismatched expectations or timing, one big key is that when you do feel the capacity or capability again to tackle a new task, be careful not to oversaturate yourself to the point that you lose the momentum you gained from learning how to make room.

Just like there is a required postpartum timeframe for a mother to heal after giving birth in order to be well for herself and for taking care of her child, when birthing a new endeavor, you also need the time, rest, and balance to accommodate the new thing you are developing, too.

And, of course, in those moments where it really just doesn't go as smoothly as you want or intend, or you are just legitimately tired, or you don't know what to do, those may be the times, like for me, that I have just have to put my faith and trust in God to work it out. That’s where you have to be like Jesus on the boat and say, "listen, I know there’s a storm, but I'm tired, and I'm going to go to sleep, and when I wake up, we're going to be okay" (see: Matthew 8:23-27). And sure enough, when you do come out on the other side, you will be amazed that you have been given the capability to not only navigate the storms of life, but also have the capacity to (and capability to) maintain peace in the middle of it, so that you can keep it moving and do greater things from there.

Times and Seasons

One moment of capacity does not always translate to long-term capability.

And, one more time for the people in the back, if you haven't already gotten it by this point, it's worth saying it again, it is really important to recognize that the capacity to produce, receive, or do something, even if capable, can be conditional on times and seasons. Sometimes, you may really only have capacity for that one day, or that one time, or that one moment. And, it's also worth saying, just because you could be available or capable to do something, it does not mean you have to make it a permanent marker in your vision. One moment of capacity does not always translate to long-term capability. And knowing your boundaries and limits, or even when to push your boundaries or limits for the growth of your vision, shows maturity. And remember, the no for now, may not be the no for later. But be willing to give yourself the space to make that decision with clarity.

Now, in all of this, it's always important to recognize that there are some things that are just going to be urgent and/or time-sensitive -- meaning, the space to ponder our capacity or capability may be limited in nature, or have to come quickly. However, the better we are with establishing those skills in the day-to-day process of our visionary journey, the better we become in handling those urgent or emergent issues that may push us to move faster than we desire. We can also embrace those moments with a better sense of preparation, knowing we feel more confident to handle the task at hand.

As one more word of wisdom, when embracing the opportunities you choose to accommodate to take on, be mindful of who or what is driving your decisions. Even if it seems like the opportunity is everything you wanted or imagined, know your limits. Furthermore, make every effort to cultivate the art of being able to confidently say “yes” or “no” to something, as it helps us understand what we want and where we’re going. And, rest assured, that with time, we will all get to a point where we we will be able to more quickly recognize what we’re both capable of at that time, and what we have capacity for at that time.

Finally, be confident that in the challenges that may come to both our capacity and our capability, find assurance in knowing that with man it may be impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

I'm rooting for you!

May you dare to be influentially visionary!

~Antonette, your Visionary Nurse®

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p.s. Did you catch my latest podcast episode with Kali Dayton, host of Walking Home from the ICU? Check it out here!

p.p.s Don't forget to take advantage of the summer sale for the Visionary Nurse®: Visionary Resilience and Leadership e-course!


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