What is your ‘breaking point’?

Like any other organization, my partner and I were discussing about how we want to run and scale our company, when she turned around and asked a very interesting question: “What is your breaking point? Because the answer in turn will define a lot of what shapes us as a company”.

“In human psychology, the breaking point is a moment of stress at which a person breaks down and is unable to cope with it. This obviously varies from individual to individual.”

Going back to our discussion, I thought it was a very valid and important question to answer. While there are aspirations and ambitions to consider on one hand, each one of us has a ‘yield stress’, beyond which the ‘breaking point’ comes in. And once it does, all hell breaks loose.

While the need for growth, scale and benefits (qualitative and quantitative) is there, a lot of times we probably do not acknowledge that we all have different abilities on what we can and cannot take on – and how much we can handle before driving ourselves up the wall. In doing so, we don’t just create challenges for ourselves, but the entire ecosystem around us.

This could be both, at an individual value level or capability level. If you are in a leadership role, it becomes all the more pronounced.

In a way, we can define ‘breaking points’ at a professional, family and personal level.

Professional level:
As leaders or founders, there are goals, targets and ambitions – but it is important to be aware of the extent we will push to achieve before things start breaking. As someone who is working for a company, it is important to ask ourselves if we are doing what we are capable of… If not, are we working and getting opportunities to improve. Does the work environment align to our values and code of ethics?

Family level: It is important to ask ourselves what actions of ours will drive us and the people around us towards the ‘breaking point’. And, is it really worth it?

Individual level: There is a lot of talk in the management world on ‘playing to a person’s strength’. As individuals we tend to look outward more and seldom inwards. If only we could take a step back, define our ‘Do Not Do’ list and stop fighting battles that we do not necessarily need to win, our ‘breaking points’ will be reduced.

I think we all try to juggle between these three in the best possible way. In fact, we probably spend a lot of time managing the professional and family levels and seldom ourselves.

I find that the key is to first define for oneself and then work on the other two.Some may argue that we don’t necessarily have choices and the ability to decide. While that is agreeable to some extent, we do have a choice to become more ‘self-aware’. It is important for us to acknowledge what our ‘triggers’ are and try to work based on that.

Eventually, for us to build the company that we dream of, it is important that we put the right foundation and agree what we will ‘not do’ to ever reach the ‘breaking point’. To me, it is a question to ask of myself first before deciding for anyone else.