Sand bucket on the beach of Punta del Este, Uruguay. David http://www.flickr.com/people/99255685@N00 (CC BY 2.0)

What You Might Do vs. What You Can Do

E. Forrest Christian Coaching, Overachievers, Underachievers 2 Comments

I have been muddying up the difference between what you can now do and what you could do now, say with the right training; between the size of your capability bucket and how much is in it. One is current capability while the latter is your current capacity. Glenn Mehltretter of PeopleFit reminded me in a comment he left on an earlier post, and it’s so clear (you should take one of his courses) that I’m going to quote it here:

Going back to some definitions: CPC and CAC. In your comment “If you’re know the numbers, she coded as 4L at 32.” It’s referring to CPC or Current Potential Capability: what you could do if 1) you valued the work and 2) had the full load of knowledge, skill, and experience, to work at your current potential.

CAC, or Current Applied Capability, refers to what you bring to the situation today. The idea being somewhat less than your potential due to a shortfall in either valuing of the work or knowledge, skills or experience.

With these two things in mind the underutilized underachiever question may reduce to fit and coaching. Fit, from a values standpoint — can I find work that lights a fire? Coaching, from a skill development standpoint.

Since the GO conference last year four of us have had the benefit of personal coaching. We have all found it of significant value. As a general statement that value came through knowing ones-self better and, with that making adjustments around what we valued, and how we defined our work.

(All emphases were added by me.)

And your Potential is always larger than your Applied. What you are trying to do is to get your Applied Capability level to be as close to your Potential as possible. Which sounds a lot like self-actualization, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a look at this and what it means for people who feel they are Overachieving or have blasted through that to underachieverhood.

“Paula”, the artist to whom I was referring, has a lot of Current Potential Capability, as shown by that “4L” number. According to Elliott Jaques, someone who has that as their current applied capability could do something like run the Jeep division of Chrysler. But it’s obvious that Paula lacks two things to be able to do that:

  1. The skills, learning and expert knowledge to do the job successfully from the start
  2. Any interest in a) the automotive industry, b) the desire to develop an interest, and c) working in large American, capital-intensive corporations.

Or, “Too young and wouldn’t want to do it.”

She wants to develop her Current Potential Capability into Current Applied Capability in the art world. Although it looks like she’s leaving painting as an income generator, as Andrew Olivier would perhaps suggest, she’s still interested in creating opportunities for other artists, especially in the Baltic states. Her mental bucket (her current potential) is big enough, if she can raise the level of both here explicit and tacit knowledge (current applied).

She’s pretty young to be at that level. (God willing, I’m wrong in my formal assessment, because it would make her life much easier.) This means that it is highly unlikely that her capability bucket is anywhere close to being full, that her potential isn’t being fulfilled by her applied capability.

But it means that because her “bucket” is a Size 4, she is going to have a hellish time trying to squeeze into a work role bucket that is a “Size 2” or “Size 1”.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and much of it will probably be forthcoming in a online seminar series that I’m putting together with one of my colleagues. Things like how you have to navigate the transition from one level to another well, how if you mess up a transition you still have to work through it to move on, how if you refuse a lower transition all your later ones will be screwed up, how potential makes any sense. You know, little things that talk about who you are, how you got where you are and how you can get back onto the path of what Andrew Olivier calls your Working Journey.

Because you are the killer app.

Image credit: Sand bucket on the beach of Punta del Este, Uruguay. David (CC BY 2.0)

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

Comments 2

  1. Forrest,

    How excellent this all is. I had an interview for my current dream job this week and am waiting to hear if I get a second interview.

    My current dream-bucket job is an intermediate to senior management position–Volunteer Coordinator–with a Christian organization that serves the homeless or, as they’re called where I want to work–“family members” (those who are without friends, God places in families…Psalm 68.6).

    I was given a pre-interview questionairre to fill out, and one of the items was “why are you job searching now?” I was able to use the concepts introduced in your posts–fit, capacity, flow etc–in a very effective way. And not merely effective but utterly truthful.

    It just doesn’t get better than that. I hope I get the job. I’m very interested in homeless people.

    Mary

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