More By This Author

Current Issue

Current Issue

Posted: February 24, 2012

What’s your rate-limiting step?

Get past it for greater success

TC North

What’s your rate-limiting step? This isn’t a new bar pickup line to replace, “What’s your sign?” It’s a term I first learned in a graduate-level biochemistry course. Being in psychology, the hard science almost broke my brain, but I was totally fascinated with the concept that one step determined the ultimate speed of a highly complex biochemical process involving scores of other steps. And it seemed like it applied to most everything.

So what’s the high-performance business (and life) lesson from biochemistry? It’s a waste of time and energy to work on improving all the other parts of a process until you can improve the rate-limiting step to the point it’s no longer the limiter.

This simplifies how to improve ourselves, our business effectiveness and our organizations. If you can identify and improve your greatest rate-limiting step, you can dramatically accelerate your effectiveness and success.

What one thing is your greatest deterrent in attaining what you most want (your rate-limiting step)?

Here are examples of rate-limiting steps, beginning with some from a few CoBiz authors:

Todd Ordal is an adviser to leaders on strategy and leadership and writes with a great blend of humor and insight. Todd indicates that some organization’s rate-limiting step is a lack of, or a poorly developed business strategy.

Liz Wendling is an author and sales coach for women. In her article “Seven Deadly Sales Sins”, Liz shares seven potential rate limiters, one of which is fear of selling. The antidote is confidence, and an in-depth technique to build selling confidence is included in my last article.

Julie Hansen  is an author and sales trainer. In her article “The Seven-Second Sales Test” , Julie points out that people make 11 decisions about you in the first seven seconds of your interaction. Not making a good first impression is certainly a rate-limiting step, not only in our business relationships but also our personal relationships.

Tad Lyle counsels executives and entrepreneurs on how to retire with wealth. Tad identifies a lack of positive personal monthly cash flow as a potential rate-limiting step in creating retirement wealth.

Dawn Bjork Buzbee infers that email can be a time suck (my words) thus is a rate-limiting step and gives guidance on how to maximize your time with email in her article “The Taming of the Inbox Monster” .

David Coombs  is a lean operations expert at Leonardo Group Americas. He has demonstrated that most rate-limiting steps in manufacturing were in the downtime between production steps! Hmm … David found that a product’s production time was most easily improved by decreasing the time in between the steps.

Can you identify your personal rate-limiting step, or your business’ rate-limiting step? Is it something that’s conscious, or obvious, or unobvious? If you identify and improve your greatest rate-limiting step (belief, fear, process, system, action, inaction, etc.), you’ll rapidly improve in many areas. If you, like most people and organizations would benefit from an outside perspective to identify your rate-limiting step, please contact me, I’ll be happy to help you find a resource to assist you.

Dr. TC North is co-author of the Amazon bestseller Fearless Leaders. For 28 years, he has been a high-performance executive coach and speaker who helps individuals and organizations identify and attain their visions and dreams. He also has coached professional and Olympic athletes in the art of creating thoughts and emotions that maximize success. He’s a professional speaker on “Fearless Leaders” and “Master Fear.” Dr. North’s work has been featured on TV and radio and in business and scientific journals. Learn more at Contact Dr. North at 303-665-8920 or, or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.





Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Thanks, Dawn for the compliment and for the CoBiz contributions you make! By TC North on 2012 02 28
Hi TC! Thanks for the mention and for including a number of talented CoBiz authors. Great article and a fresh idea on improving our business and personal lives. By Dawn Bjork Buzbee on 2012 02 28
Julie, thanks for your comment; you're correct and I'd like to clarify. I think of a step a bit differently than a link, and speed is a bit different than strength. The beauty of the rate-limiting step identification is that what gets identified is very specific (just one step). Thus, it's very clear how to change it once you identify it. By TC North on 2012 02 24
What I hear you saying is that we're only as strong as our weakest link; if we overcompensate in other areas but don't fix what's ultimately holding us back we tend to gravitate back to our baseline. Great article, TC and thanks for the mention! By Julie Hansen on 2012 02 24
Thanks, Liz. I hope someone gives it a go as a pick up line and let's me know the result! By TC North on 2012 02 24
Hey TC. think that is a great pick up line and more people need to be using it. Thanks for including all of us in your very informative piece. I always enjoy your articles. Liz Wendling By liz wendling on 2012 02 24
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

ColoradoBiz TV

Loading the player ...

Featured Video