I worked in retail for a short time, and detail business that retail is, the experience created some lingering impressions for me. One was a fascination with taking inventory, and projecting the potential margins that inventory could represent.

In the retail business I learned to consider assets as a means to an end; the ‘end’ was product and service. My shop inventory created a product experience for the customer which exponentially magnified my actual cost of goods sold, generating much larger revenue streams. In its raw form, my inventory was actually capacity.

Capacity. The word began to be one that struck some very resonant chords with me. As I discovered my passions in management and leadership, it didn’t take me too long to connect the abundance of human intrigue to capacity too. I wondered about the human capacity for worthwhile work: Could that be something we could ‘take inventory’ of?

Today, I look at our capacity for work in four different ways; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Within each realm, we can reveal the incredible potential people have, because we look at their innate strengths with a bigger view; we ‘see more’ of them in that we see them with a greater wholeness.

In particular, this four-fold view of a person’s capacity has been a good way for me to coach leaders in the mentorship they offer to those they feel are their possible successors. When we mentor, we want to help another discover all they are capable of achieving in a full exploration and celebration of who they are, and who they can be.

Let’s look at these four different dimensions of human capacity one at a time. I am still learning about the abundance to be found in each, and I invite you to investigate them with me.

Physical Capacity

Athleticism, appearance and health are the more obvious parts of physical capacity, however this also includes demeanor, disposition, and those personality traits important for likeability. Beyond those surface traits we recognize, we are looking to discover someone’s born-in talents. From those talents we can reveal their natural inclination for learning certain skills. Conversely, their non-talents will reveal when learning other skills will prove difficult for them.

Intellectual Capacity

If we are to ‘respect a person’s intelligence’ we must reveal all of their intelligence and celebrate it. Intellectual capacity is what we most often refer to as a person’s pool of knowledge, and further, how they apply and use it. It is how a person thinks and reasons, and how they make decisions. Intellectual capacity includes their ability with problem solving, their thirst for learning, and their capacity for generating new ideas. I have begun to think of self-talk and ‘mental gymnastics’ as the tools of intellectual capacity.

Emotional Capacity

Included in emotional capacity is self-esteem, confidence, and the assertiveness which stems from personal values; thus I consider someone’s beliefs and deep-seated convictions to be more a part of their emotional capacity than of their intellectual capacity. Going back to the concept of ‘taking inventory,’ emotional capacity also includes our tolerance and load factors for stress and burn-out. This is where I’ll also look at someone’s sense of belonging and needs for security. Energy level is directly related to your emotional capacity.

Spiritual Capacity

I have always found it most useful to look at this as defining the ways a person is inspired, in other words, how they are ‘in-spirit.’ This is the inventory of someone’s personal values, their grounding and sense of place, and their aloha spirit (how they are in the ‘breath of life’). Within spiritual capacity we can start to recognize our connections to social responsibility, to civic duty, to our humanitarian tugs-of-heart, and with those things which bring us closer to a sense of self-actualization.

When managers are coached to look at their people through these lenses, it is akin to their meeting them all over again. They can gain far greater levels of respect for the richness people represent, and they get excited about the opportunity they have been given as coaches and mentors. They begin to realize how unlimited our capacity can be, and they coach better because they encourage more, and with a far greater sense of optimism and celebration.

When you are a manager, the capacity of your people is an inventory well worth taking, for the abundance it creates is actually within you and your outlook.

Related Articles:
Experience Required. (Are you sure?)
What it means to “Look to your source.”
Mastery, Permission to be oh so human. Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or download her manifesto: Managing with Aloha, on ChangeThis.com.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Easy to duplicate = Easy to learn.

Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook