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Your Plimsoll Line: When Overwhelmed, Bail Water

Your Plimsoll LineIf you’d like to see Larry’s video titled “The Plimsoll Line” and other Illuminations on Leadership, visit and sign up.

Why would you overload a cargo ship to the point of sinking? Why would you overload yourself with too many projects and tasks?

You wouldn’t intentionally. But if you didn’t know your cargo ship’s capacity – or your own capacity - you could overload accidentally.

At one time, ships in fact found themselves overloaded. The reason? Because it was expensive to cross the ocean. So why not load as much as possible onto the ship. When high seas struck, problems occurred and the cargo ships sank.

Plimsoll Line

Load line mark and lines on the hull of a ship (image Wikipedia). As you load cargo, the ship drops; with the Plimsoll line, you stop loading when the line meets the water.

In an effort to get more cargo transported, they risked the entire ship.

This same overloading happens to business leaders. The leader of a business, team, or department takes on more and more – responsibilities, projects, tasks, you name it. If (or when) a problem occurs the overloaded leader is at risk of sinking. And possibly sinking the business with them.

In the 1860s, Samuel Plimsoll painted a line on ships. This is now known as the Plimsoll or Load Line. This line indicated the maximum depth a ship could be loaded to. This represents the ship’s maximum cargo capacity.

This is what business leaders need to do.

You need to create a maximum capacity for yourself.

How To Create Your Maximum Capacity

  • Make a list of everything you have to do. Then identify which things you can delegate. You have to get your team to help you.

    In Larry’s book “The Highest Calling” the mentor tells the contractor:

    “Freedom does not come when you’ve solved all your problems, young man. Freedom comes when you realize you can’t do it alone.”

  • Make a list of your activitiesOnce you’ve identified everything that can be delegated, identify the most important thing you can do first. Just one thing.

If you’re not sure what that one thing is, identify what your highest value activity is. If you’re not sure, go back through the blog and read Larry’s HVAs (high value activities). These won’t necessarily be your HVAs, but they will help point you in the right direction.

DON’T FORGET: If you’d like to see Larry Janesky’s video titled “The Plimsoll Line” and other Illuminations on Leadership, visit and sign up.