‘I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.’

Steve Jobs

Sometimes it’s just as important to know what we don’t or can’t do as it is to know what we do and can.

If we don’t recognise our limits then we run the risk of taking things on which are outside our area of expertise, that at best we do mediocrely and at worst, badly.

The difficulty is, when we’re running a business and want to deliver and overdeliver to clients and customers, it’s hard not simply to say ‘yes’ to a request, then worry about how we’re going to fulfil it later.

Of course, it’s possible that we might excel in delivering the added or new requirement, but it’s more likely that we fulfil it to a satisfactory – or reasonable – level. The problem then is that delivery at a satisfactory or even reasonable level still reduces the average, meaning that the service you excel in doesn’t look quite so good as it would by itself. Sometimes, less is more.

It’s a bit like watching a longer film that is good with some brilliant bits, in contrast to a shorter film that is brilliant from start to finish – and you know which one you’d recommend to a friend.

Initially, when a client’s needs align perfectly with what we can deliver, we are at the optimum point of mutual benefit in the business relationship. But it’s when we say yes to things that don’t align perfectly that the relationship runs the risk of becoming unstuck. If the client or customer starts to lose faith in our ability to deliver, that faith can be difficult to regain.

So, the takeaway here is know your strengths and weaknesses and be willing to acknowledge them openly to your client. That way, you don’t overpromise, under deliver and subsequently lose their trust.

In business, as in most things, authenticity and honest self-awareness count a great deal more than many would have us believe.

The best restaurants tend to offer quite limited menus.