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The one thing that keeps high achievers ahead of the pack

By Robert Glazer

Excerpted from Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others

Have you ever wondered why some individuals are consistently able to achieve at such a high level?

They are always pushing forward and hitting their goals, but they seem to be doing less than everyone else. They have built their capacity.

In its purest definition, capacity building is the method by which we seek, acquire, and develop the skills and abilities to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of our innate potential.

High achievers across all spectrums of life and business have found continuous ways to build their capacity at faster rates than their peers and use that extra capacity to stay ahead of the pack and achieve at the highest level. People who consistently elevate have a competitive advantage, but it’s one that you can replicate.

Capacity building is similar to developing a muscle. It doesn’t happen overnight. I might be inspired to lift a heavy weight, but only after weeks of consistent commitment, work and incremental improvement will I have built up the strength and physical capacity to do so. Suddenly I have the capacity to do what I could not do before.

Inspiration is valuable, but it’s not enough to effect real change that requires follow through and commitment. In my own journey and in speaking with hundreds of others who have made meaningful and sustained changes to their lives, I’ve identified four essential elements of capacity building; spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. These four elements are fundamental and are present in nearly every aspect of self-improvement.

Here’s a brief overview of each:

  • Spiritual capacity is about understanding who you are, what you want most and the standards you want to live by.
  • Intellectual capacity is about how you improve your ability to think, learn, plan and execute with discipline.
  • Physical capacity is your health, wellbeing, physical performance and level of competition.
  • Emotional capacity is how you react to challenging situations, your emotional mindset and the quality of your relationship.

Capacity building starts with understanding these four interconnected elements and then developing them individually and simultaneously. Think of each element as a chamber of an inflatable ball separated into four sections, where each section can be filled individually with a dense gas.

The bigger the ball becomes, the more energy and mass it will have, resulting in optimal momentum as it rolls. It will perform best when all the chambers grow in tandem, rather than one section getting too big at the expense of the others. If one chamber is bigger or another is underinflated, the ball will not roll evenly. Instead of gaining speed and building momentum, it’s going to wobble awkwardly and get off track. These chambers are also leaky and constantly need filling. Similar to tires on your car, they need continuous maintenance to ensure they have the right pressure and imbalance.

Balance is often hard to identify, but being aware of imbalance and identifying exactly which chamber is slowing you down is often the key to keeping you on course. Building physical capacity offers the most concrete example between increased effort and improved outcomes. You see that if you run a little bit more each day, it becomes easier as your conditioning improves.

Likewise, if you lift a little more weight each day, you can soon lift what you could not just a few months or weeks before. The process is the same for things that are not physical. Focusing on building capacity within ourselves and our teams is one of our core principles that we’ve used at Acceleration Partners to build an award-winning culture.

A leader’s goal should be to inspire and elevate expectations so that team members can simultaneously improve in all areas of their lives, including leadership, time management, prioritization, decision making, self-awareness and self-confidence. These abilities have a domino effect. When you improve in one area, you begin to improve in all.

And one of the most important outcomes in capacity building is the exponential effect that has on others including friends, families and those whom you lead. It has the effect of lifting while you climb. As you build your own capacity and achieve more, you develop the ability to help others do the same. It’s a virtuous cycle and benefits everyone involved. By focusing on these elements, you’ll be on a path to building your own capacity to elevate and support others in their journey as well.

Robert Glazer is founder and CEO of global performance marketing agency Acceleration Partners. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the affiliate platform BrandCycle. Follow him on Twitter at Robert_glazer and LinkedIn at