Limiting factors

In any system, there are limiting factors—circumstances that limit what the system can achieve.

As one limiting factor is addressed, another arises. There’s no way around this.

Today, your team’s limiting factor might be cash. Tomorrow, after a windfall of cash, your new limiting factor might be your recruiting speed, or your sales cycle, or a delay in your production process—maybe all three.

With $190 billion in cash, even Apple experiences this phenomenon. The company still faces hiring challenges, supplier bottlenecks, and computer chip limitations. Apple can throw cash at each of these limiting factors. There will be others right behind them.

When I first learned about limiting factors, I was discouraged. Now they bring me peace. As I push the Lessonly team to address this or that challenge, I no longer think resolving any one issue will unlock everything else. I have a saner, more grounded view of how things work.

Limiting factors also help my spirit. I used to think I could dial my life in just how I wanted, if only I worked hard enough. Now, instead of trying to optimize every aspect of my existence, I practice appreciating my life as it is.

There will be limiting factors to any vision I have for life. My options are to accept what’s happening and let go of the vision, or accept that no matter how hard I push, there will always be something out of reach. The option I choose depends on the situation. Overall, the more I live in what’s happening instead of wanting what isn’t, the calmer I am.

I hope understanding limiting factors helps you too. For an excellent book on systems theory, I recommend Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows. WHAT. A. GEM.

I welcome your thoughts,

This is Max’s note—an every-so-often message from Lessonly’s CEO about learning, leadership, and Better Work. Sign up below to subscribe via email. No spam, we promise!

“I worry how my teammates interpret my vulnerability.”
Four relationships, prescribed by my doctor