This morning I overheard a surgeon talking to another about his internet speeds. “My Spectrum internet has been really slow, what is the rate-limiting step for getting faster internet speeds in our office?”

I felt a warm feeling when I heard that question. I had not heard anyone talk about the rate-limiting step since my biochemistry classes in undergrad over a decade earlier.

The surgeon’s question got me thinking. As I thought about it, I realized that thinking about the rate-limiting step in your business, relationships, spiritual life, personal growth, etc can actually be very helpful.

The concept of the rate-limiting step is very simple to understand. In a biochemical system, complex processes happen in smaller steps that are catalyzed by certain enzymes. For example,

A to B; B to C; C to D; D to E could represent a process of going from A to E but in small steps.

The rate is how fast something is going. The rate-limiting step is the step with the slowest rate that is slowing the whole process down. E.g. If step C to D is going at the slowest rate or speed, then the whole process can’t go faster than that slow rate. C to D will then be called the rate-limiting step.

If you want to increase the rate at which things are going from A to E, you have to speed up the rate-limiting step (i.e. make it faster).

If you are working as a team to make a product, the whole product making process happens in smaller steps. If you want to make the whole process move faster, you need to identify the rate-limiting step and make that faster.

If you understand the concept of the rate-limiting step and apply it to your life, business, personal relationships, etc, it will transform your life. It helps you focus on the one step that will make things move forward the quickest.

What is the rate-limiting step of your success?

What is the rate-limiting step of your performance? I.e. What is the step that is limiting the rate at which you can increase your performance to your desired goal?

Between the person you are today and the person you want to become lies a series of steps. One of those steps is your rate limiting step. It determines how fast you will get to your goal or if you will ever achieve your goals at all. It’s your job to figure out your rate-limiting step so that you can target it with surgical precision and save yourself from pain, wasting a lot of time or even failing to accomplish your dreams.