Although we may not be consciously thinking about our potential every day, subconsciously it is something the majority of people are aware of. Defining the definition of one’s own potential is a personal quest, and there are others in our lives who influence and can help us to define it.
Defining our own potential is fluid, and isn’t something which is accomplished overnight. In fact, it can take decades to both define and ultimately get close to our potential. For me personally, when I think about potential, I think of it in terms of considering whether I am fully capitalizing on my abilities and talents.
The challenge for most people is that they often don’t understand or appreciate what their true talents are. However, about a decade ago I was able to determine what mine were, and it literally has significantly and positively impacted both my personal and professional life.
When we approach defining our potential and are not aware of the abilities we can fully leverage, we put ourselves at a vast disadvantage. Why would anyone do this? In fact, based on the profession I am in, I see this occur on a daily basis. Although, even prior to professionally seeing this occur, I was well aware of this happening. I simply was not in the right professional position to have the type of impact I knew I could have on others, and thankfully, now I am.
Defining my own potential has been both exciting and more challenging than I had considered it would be. The reason I attribute it to be more challenging, was that for a long time, my focus on my potential was not necessarily defined enough by me. With the perspective I now have on looking both retrospectively and currently on my own potential, I can see clearly who has influenced it. The good news is I can also see the point in time when I decided it was time to take back control, and fully determine the direction I would point my potential towards.
Can you think about a time when you may have realized you were letting others define your potential? This is something which happens to almost everyone. The turning point is when you realize you are more in control of your own destiny and potential than you might give yourself credit. This isn’t to say we have all been fully manipulated by others who may have tried to positively impact our potential. Keep in mind that manipulation often gets a bad rap, and in some instances, there is such a thing as positive manipulation. Especially if the person doing so has good intentions to help, and not harm your direction.
Consider a time when you were trying to shape someone else’s potential. How did this situation turn out? Can you think of a time when someone was trying to positively influence your potential? Perhaps a teacher, coach, friend or family member? Most of your memories will be good ones. However, there may also be a few which may not be. It is these particular situations that can steer us in the wrong direction. Hopefully for not too long, but sometimes this does happen. The expression of “veering onto the wrong track” comes to mind when I think about this. The good news is we all have the ability, perhaps with some help, to get back on the “right track”, and this includes our “potential track”.
Reaching our potential can be harder to define. However, there are considerations you can factor in to help you to determine both how to define, as well as move towards reaching your potential. Here are some suggestions to first define, and then work towards achieving yours.
• Make sure you do this on your own. You can start by thinking about and then writing down what you would like to achieve. Factor in having two lists. One for your personal life, the other for your professional one.
• Once you have your lists, put them away for a few days. When you come back to them, and when you look at them, do they make sense, or more importantly inspire you? If not, you should delete the ones in these categories.
• Your list of how you will define your potential does not need to be long. Actually, it is harder to pare your list to be a shorter one (e.g., 3-5 items). Remember, you want to be able to achieve your potential and not make it impossible to move towards.
• If you have a mentor, or trusted advisor, consider sharing how you have defined your potential with them.
• Everyone’s definition of potential is going to be different, and there are no downsides to how you define your own. Although, I will add that you should make sure you are not doing yourself a disservice by underestimating your own potential. This is why I suggest you share your potential definition with your mentor or advisor. A few of them if you are lucky enough to have them.
Achieving your potential:
• Only you will truly know if you have reached your potential, as you will ultimately define what the parameters for your potential is, and what it will take to get there.
• Having a map, or process of how to reach your potential is something you will also want to craft. It doesn’t have to be fully thought through, but it should provide you with an outline of how you will reach your potential.
• If you are the type of person who loves achieving milestones, make sure you factor these into your potential plan.
• Some people do better when someone else is monitoring their progress. If you know you are like this, define who this “someone” will be to help keep you focused on achieving your potential. Doing it alone can be quite difficult, but it’s not impossible to do.
The biggest thing to remember about achieving your potential, is that you are the guardian of it. Whether you choose to achieve it is up to you. So, remember this and don’t blame others if you are not able to do so. If you want to achieve something, there is always a way to do so. It might be more difficult to do, but you can do it if you truly want to. You know you have the potential, now it the time to make your potential a reality.
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