Potential, that’s term that we commonly hear. Whether we are talking about a child or an employee or about you. Questions are abound and it goes something like this:
- What is your potential?
- How do you know if you are living up to your potential?
- How do you know if you have maxed out on your potential?
- What can you do to develop your potential?
No doubt that these questions have been asked and you may have also come up with some answers of your own. Some common answers would be
- “I don’t know what my potential is?”
- “I feel like I have reached the pinnacle of my potential.”
- “I don’t want to know.”
- “I am afraid to challenge myself.”
Is there a way for you and me to know for sure? The first step is to know and understand what potential is and is not. According to the Oxford Dictionary, potential is “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.”
Therefore potential is about:
- An ability or skill or talent that you have and have demonstrated it in some behaviour or action.
- It can be develop further, not stagnant and can grow and increase with usage and time.
- It is forward looking. It continues to grow if it is continuously being developed.
- It is “alive”, waiting to be realised and desiring to grow.
- Prospect of and for greater success.
- There is always room for improvement.
Conversely potential is not about:
- One time experience or achievement.
- It is not past tense.
- Being contented with where you are at.
- Hiding it or putting a lid on your strengths or skills.
What can we do to living out our potential? There are 6 ways to ensure that we live out and up to our potential:
- Forward Looking: It is about the next step, the next milestone, the next goal, the next area of growth, always asking the question of “What’s Next?”. It is forgetting what is behind or in the past, and striving to move forward with the aim of doing and being better.
- Say “Yes” to Challenges and “No” to Fear. Growth only comes when there is resistance and challenges to be faced and overcome. When an opportunity arises to push your skills or abilities further, take it on. No matter what we do, there will always be fear involved. No one goes through life without feeling fearful, but the one who overcomes fear will always come out of it having grown and learnt more than expected.
- Keep on keeping on. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. It is all about perseverance and determination. Once you have committed to a certain goal, be focus and stay the course. It is easy to give up half way or even right before the end, and we all know the regret that comes from it. It is with those past experience that should help us to remember that there is always a positive outcome if we never give up. There is always experiences to be gained.
- Belief. You must have the belief that this is the path that want to take. You must believe that this is your purpose. You must believe that this is your calling. Belief is important to keep you keeping on.
- Vision of the outcome can be very different from how you start out. What you start out with may look very different from how it ends up. There are those who are able to achieve exactly what they set out to. Most of us will find that the achievements are different from what had envisioned. However, it is always satisfying if it’s the working out of our potential.
- It is Not solely about the achievement but about Maturing.
- skills and abilities
- emotional and mental maturity.
Where are you in the journey of living out your potential? What would you do differently? Where do you see your potential taking you? What is holding you back? What would propel you forward?
Potential is all about the future. Don’t let the past failure or setback put a full stop on your potential. Focus on the future and just how bright and promising it can be.
We all know that stealing is wrong. There are laws against stealing. And yet we constantly steal from ourselves without even thinking twice. What do I mean? I don’t mean stealing an item or idea from someone else. I mean the critical aspects of life that we are robbing ourselves of and from.
How and when do you steal from yourself? It comes in many different forms and the top 3 ways are:
- Time and Energy. Time and our body’s energy level is limited. We all have only 24 hours in a day and depending what your fitness level is, you will have a limited amount of energy to concentrate, to work, to play and so on. When we have depleted our energy resource, it is natural to be less productive, mistake prone and emotionally grumpy and negative. Here are some examples of how we steal our time and energy:
- “Me” or Quiet time: Spending time to fuel yourself whether through exercise or meditation is critical to give you the energy to start the day. If your energy tank is near empty, it is just tough to get through the day in one piece. Spending just 15 – 30 minutes a day is enough to get going.
- Allocation of time and energy. Prioritising how we should spend our time and energy is important. Knowing that if completing task A is important and that requires your 100% focus and concentration we must then allocate sufficient time to it first before anything else. Just remember that time and energy is just like the battery level of your phone. It gets depleted until at the end of the day, you charge it again.
I would like to challenge you to think about in what ways do you steal time and energy? You will be surprise with how long the list is.
- Opportunities. Opportunities that come our way in forms of promotions, new roles, investments etc. Opportunities will inherently come with fear, risk and doubt. However, when we do not give the opportunity its well deserved consideration, we are in essence stealing from our growth, learning, development and maturity. We all want to learn, grow and mature. In order for us to achieve that, we need to get out of our comfort zone and take some risk. Think about the opportunities that you have passed up on:
- What were the reasons? If things were different, would you make the same decision?
- What would you have gained if you took on the opportunity?
- What have you gained by not taking on the opportunity?
More often than not, there will some opportunities that we will regret missing out on and some we are thankful that we did not take up. The critical aspect is to know and understand the reasons. That’s how we learn and learn not to be make the same mistake.
- Relationships. The number 1 focus or priority for all us will be family. People. Relationships. How do we steal from that?
- We take certain relationships for granted.
- We don’t pay enough attention.
- We don’t spend enough time.
- We don’t care or nurture that relationship.
- We don’t allow the relationship to grow.
If it is our Number 1 priority, what makes us steal from relationships? Think about any one relationship that is critical to you
- what areas are you nurturing it?
- What areas are you falling short in?
- What sacrifices would you need to make?
- What areas could you be preventing the relationship from growing?
- How could you strengthen a relationship?
What happens when we constantly and consistently steal from ourselves?
- Growth. Our learning and road to maturity is impacted. To be emotionally immature when you are no longer a child is hard going. We mature through all the highs and lows of life. We experience and learn because of the highs and lows. No one enjoys the challenges, trials and difficulties, however, once we manage to survive and make it through the other side, there is no greater satisfaction. The reward is meaningful and well deserved.
- Purpose. There is a lack of meaning and purpose in our lives. The constant stealing from our dreams, potential and talent will slowly but surely dim the light of passion. Once that happens, you will ponder the life long question: What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose here? I guess that’s why there are life coaches. So don’t wait for that moment to happen, start by being clear on what your life purpose is.
- Joy. We steal the joy of life that comes in 2 ways:
- Relationships that are meaningful and powerful. Relationships that will last a life time. People who will be with you through thick and thin. There is great joy in that.
- Your accomplishments and hard work. All of us know it feels to have accomplished a goal. Not just accomplishing it but exceeding our expectations. When we put in the hard work, setting aside fear and doubt, and overcoming, there is an indescribable sense of worth and value in that.
The key questions are these:
- Are you stealing from yourself today?
- What are they?
- What do you want to do about it?
- When are you going to start to make the change?