Potential is a wonderful word. Do we all have personal potential? Absolutely! Your personal potential is what you could be – the person you can become. The question becomes, how do you reach your potential? The answer is continued growth; and to grow you must be highly intentional. John Maxwell, in his book, How Successful People Grow, presents insightful ideas to help us develop the right attitudes, tap into our strengths and passions, and develop the skills to become all we can be.
Believe in yourself. All people have the seeds of success in them; but you must believe you can cultivate those seeds to grow into something wonderful; and you must see value in yourself to believe you can add value to yourself. One of the main reasons people fail to reach their potential is because they do not believe in their own genuine value. So the first step is to develop a positive self-image. It is impossible to behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves; we cannot begin to do positive things for ourselves until we feel positive about ourselves. If low self-esteem is putting a ceiling on your potential, then consider the following: 1) Guard yourself against negative self-talk 2) Stop comparing yourself to others 3) Take actions to move beyond your limiting beliefs 4) Add value to others 5) Take actions that build character 6) In a specific area of your life, practice small disciplines every day toward positive habits, actions, and decisions 7) Celebrate small victories 8) Spend time visualizing your positive life based upon your values 9) Take responsibility for your life.
Take time to reflect. Experience is a hard teacher because the test is given first and the lesson is given afterward. But the lesson is received only if the person takes time to reflect after the experience to learn from it. Study the lives of great people who have made an impact, and you will find in every case, they spend considerable time thinking alone, sorting through their experiences, and planning for the future.
Seek out growth environments. If we want to grow to reach out potential, we must be in the right environment, if the future looks dull, routine, or confining, you may need to start looking to make changes. To check your environment, ask yourself the following questions: Am I continually challenged? Is my focus forward? Is the atmosphere affirming? Am I often out of my comfort zone? Am I confident despite the prospect of failure? Is growth modeled and expected? Note it is profitable to associate with people larger than ourselves; the people with whom we associate determine 95 percent of our success or failure.
Become highly strategic. Planning your life is really quite simple. It’s a matter of knowing your values, making some key decisions based on those values, and then managing those decisions on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not enough just to plan, successful people develop systems that include action steps. What is your big picture? In what areas must you grow to achieve purpose? And what systems can you develop to advance yourself in those areas every day? Effective systems will encourage organization as well. When you know your purpose and priorities , productivity and efficiency will follow.
Turn negative experiences into positives. What separates people who thrive from those who merely survive is how they face their problems. The people who make the most of bad experiences are the ones who find creative ways to meet them. They see possibilities and opportunity within their problems. Remember, where there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Stretch yourself. Most people are naturally tempted to settle into a comfort zone where they choose safety over potential. They do the same things, with the same people and get the same results. Growth doesn’t come from staying in your comfort zone; you can’t improve and avoid change at the same time. Growth is possible when we do what we have never done, push ourselves harder, and reach in a way that is uncomfortable to us.
Make smart trade-offs. What will it take to grow to the next level? How about letting go of things that you love and value most? Believe it or not, this is the thing that often holds people back. You must be willing to keep making significant trade-offs if you want to keep growing and reach your potential. So at the intersections of life, choose wisely. Be aware poor choices are often made due to fears and the immediate feeling of loss; more often than not, the loss from a trade-off is felt immediately, while we don’t reap the benefits until years later. To make the right choices, it helps to maintain a positive attitude and focus on the upcoming benefits of the trade-off.
Learn to ask more questions. Curiosity is the key to being a lifelong learner, and if you want to keep growing, you must keep on learning. Curious people have a thirst for knowledge. They are interested in life, people, ideas, experiences, and events. They continually ask why? Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom will not seek you out. You must go out and acquire it. The best way to do that is to remain curious.
Focus on enlarging your capacity to grow. In order to keep increasing your capacity to grow, you must change how you think and you must change your actions. Consider the following thinking: 1) Stop thinking you must work more and start thinking what works. 2) Stop thinking can I? and start thinking how can I. 3) Stop thinking about one option and explore several options. 4) Stop doing the things you have done before and start doing the things you could do. 5) Stop doing what is expected and start doing more than is expected. 6) Stop doing important things occasionally and start doing important things daily.
If we have the right attitude about growth, we need not be tomorrow what we are today.