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(posted: September 23rd, 2010)
Of all the worthy pursuits in life, to me this is the most important. Every reward is attained in pursuit of living your potential.
"To become what we are capable of becoming is the only end in life."
Robert Lewis Stevenson
What is potential?
What is possible rather than actual; capable of being or becoming; the latent excellence that may not be developed.
My definition is this: The best possible version of you.
Unfortunately, many people do not dare to stretch themselves; they do not dare to dream about what they can achieve or become. They live safe and small; it is easier that way. It has been said the greatest waste there is, is the difference between what we are today and what we are capable of becoming.
So how do we realize the greatness dormant inside of us?
Thomas Edison says it this way,
"If we did all the things that we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."
What Holds Us Back?
I believe it is fear. We are afraid of our greatest potential. We wonder to ourselves,
If I discover it, how can I then live up to it? What will others then expect of me? What if I fail?
As leaders, we need to let our own light shine, as children do so naturally. When we discover our strengths, our greatness and the capabilities that have been gifted to us, we can inspire others to do the same. We can give others permission to consult not their fears but their hopes and dreams, and truly live to their greatest potential.
Marianne Williamson said it best,
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I believe this is one of the greatest opportunities of leaders today. This includes recognizing our own strengths, working from those strengths, and committing the time and energy to support others on their journey.
Are You Pursuing the Potential?
Do you help your team stretch themselves to their limits? Or do you limit them by not inviting them to explore their potential. Do you try to keep everything comfortable, safe, and easy to manage?
You may be fully aware of many of your strengths and limitations, but what is still unwrapped within you? My hope is reading this will inspire you to stretch to your limits, find the great potential buried within, and invite others to do the same.