At some point in your life, someone probably made the statement that you have a lot of potential. We all seem to have potential, but there’s rarely anyone around who can tell us how to realize it. What good is potential if you’re unable to capitalize on it?
Let’s look at the definition of potential. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first definition of potential (noun) is “something that can develop or become actual.” In this sense, potential is a funny thing. While there are many other definitions, there is one thing that all of them have in common. Potential can’t be quantified. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be cultivated. While I’m definitely not the expert on potential, I’ve had to work through some of my own issues to realize some of the potential that others saw in me. Now I’d like to help you do the same.
Here are 10 tips that can help you reach your full potential:
Keep your eyes open. There are countless opportunities to maximize our potential and better our lives. We get stuck in the same mental routines and fail to see all the opportunities around us. We expect opportunity to look a certain way or we expect the opportunity to jump out and shout “Here I am, I am your opportunity.” That’s not how it works. Sometimes it can be something as simple as taking an extra minute to improve that presentation to your manager. It could be choosing to read a new personal development book each month and implementing small changes into your life. Or maybe even taking up a new hobby where you can meet new people and find something new that brings you joy. Open your mind and expand your knowledge. An open mind is crucial to reaching your full potential.
Develop your strengths. This, for me, was a huge revelation. Focus on your strengths NOT your weaknesses. Your greatest achievements will likely be a product of your strengths. So many times we hear about the things that we don’t do so well but no one talks about what we’re good at. The best way to improve, and the fastest way in my opinion, is to focus on the things you are good at. Spend some time fully developing your ability to apply your strengths to all aspects of your life. Developing your strengths will also give you more confidence when it is time to work on the things that you are not so strong in.
Work on your weaknesses. Most people spend so much time stressing over their weaknesses that they become blind to their strengths. This is a mistake. Spend just enough time on your weaknesses to remove, or lessen, the amount of anxiety you feel when doing those activities. Once you are certain that you can perform the activity with relatively little anxiety, stop focusing on it.
Find a mentor. A good mentor can save years of struggle and effort. The ideal mentor started where you’re starting, and has achieved the success you’re after. The best mentors are great teachers. This is not something that I have done yet but I have talked to people that I would like as a mentor and gotten some great advice. If you do plan to look for a mentor, keep in mind that there are some that have great skills, but aren’t great coaches.
- Set goals. Setting goals is cliché, but how can anyone expect to achieve something great if they haven’t defined it beforehand? How can you be successful if you haven’t identified what success looks like to you? Your goals are your pathway to the success that you desire. Once you set your goals, constantly remind yourself of what they are. My favorite way is to create a vision board. I keep my board in view of my bed, so I see it when I wake up in the morning and when I lay down at night. The constant reminder helps me make decisions when I get stuck. You can also use a journal or a notebook to write down your goals and the steps you will take to get there.
Be assertive. Have you ever noticed that assertive people are the ones that tend to get what they want? Being passive is rarely an effective strategy. Be willing to ask for what you want. Countless people have failed to get what they want simply due to the fear of asking for it. Seriously, the worst thing that could happen is they say no. Then you just find another way to ask. Please be sure that you understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggression is not recommended.
Step outside the norm. The greatest achievers frequently upset a lot of people. Think about how hostile everyone was when it was suggested that the world was round or that the Earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around. While I do believe that everyone has greatness within them, not everyone will realize that greatness. Nor will they understand your need to do so. Straying from the mediocrity of society will ruffle some feathers. Ok who are we kidding, you will piss off a lot of people. But don’t stop being your greatest self. Be uniquely you. The rest of the population will catch up soon enough.
Focus on doing instead of thinking. Most people learn, think, and plan too much. Action results in change and progress. However, that doesn’t mean you should make poor, unintelligent choices. Think about your goals, identify the actions that will get you there, and then do them.
- It’s not just hard work that matters, but rather hard, smart work. Working hard on things that don’t matter won’t help anyone reach their highest potential. Ensure you’re spending your time on important activities. This is much easier to do once you’ve defined your goals and the actions you must take to achieve them. Those will be the activities that you focus your time and energy on.
- Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. Defining your goals, making action plans, and taking action is a never-ending cycle for those who are working towards achieving their goals. As you develop your action plan, build in some awards along the way. Every time you reach a significant milestone in your progress, take some time to acknowledge what you have achieved and do something to celebrate you. These celebrations can be something as small as a coffee date with your friend at your favorite coffee shop. Or a trip to get your hair and nails done. When you reach the larger milestones, plan larger celebrations. A day trip with your friends or maybe even a weekend trip. As you continue to review your progress you will build more confidence in yourself and create more and more success in your life.
It’s doubtful that anyone comes close to reaching the peak of their potential, but all of us can do much more than what we’re currently doing. Decide to become the best possible version of yourself. Your potential is only limited by the limits you place on yourself.