This is part of a blog series this year on the topic of potential. What it is, how to understand it, how to unlock it and how to maximize it. 

What is potential?

Potential is…dormant ability…reserved power…untapped strength…unused success…hidden talents…capped capability.

Dr Myles Munroe

You know you are capable of so much more. You feel the stirrings of it deep in your soul. Even though you may have shunned that voice for so long that you have given up believing you have ability to be anything greater than you are right now. 

Sure, I get it. Life has been hard, it hasn’t dealt you a fair hand. There have been many obstacles, born into the wrong time, the wrong part of the city, the wrong country. Maybe you are frustrated by debt, by the lack of money, by the lack of help or support from those who were supposed to take care of you. 

Or maybe things have actually been good. Maybe everything was provided for you. Maybe you went to the best schools, aced your studies and are working at the job of your dream. 

But you still feel it, the nagging feeling you could do more, do something worthier, more impactful, more than just filling your pockets.

Let me assure you that you are definitely not reaching your full potential. As long as there is more to give, you are not done. Reaching your potential is a perpetual journey to the death. And it doesn’t necessarily mean go bigger every time, amassing more and advancing to bigger stages, although that can be a part of it. It can also mean going deeper, growing stronger, more connected, more aligned to the call of your heart.

You could be playing your craft at highest world stages touching millions and still miss your potential if the ache of your soul really is to create something more meaningful that resonates deeper with a select few.

Your potential is negotiation between your soul and your creator.

So why are you not reaching it. Why do you fall short of your potential so consistently? What trips you up? I thought about it and came up with so many reasons you are not where you should be, but today, we will start with just 7.

  1. You don’t believe

You have been in your situation, accepting the status quo for so long that you don’t believe that more is possible for you. You have completely rejected the idea of your potential, that you could be more. You are seated firmly on the sidelines, convinced that living your dreams and doing the things your heart longs to do are for other people, the lucky few. It is not for you. Sure, life may have knocked you down a couple of times and kept you in your place. So what? Everyone gets knocked down. Everybody gets rejected and hurt. There is someone out there who has gone through far worse than you and made it out. It’s what you do with your obstacles that matters. You have to get back into the ring, you have to fight for yours. But first you have to start to believe again. Like Charles Xavier said to his younger self in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ – ‘we need you to hope again’.

2. You don’t do the work

Listen, reaching your potential is no cakewalk. It is something that you must fight for. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. You can’t skip over the process and get to the result. You have to do the work. And that’s where a lot of people falter. They don’t work nearly as hard and as consistently as it would take to really move the needle towards their goals. It is easier to do many other things. Maybe it is games, maybe it is TV, maybe it’s Netflix, or social media or social events. You have to let those take a different position on your priority list and do the work. Doing the work, embracing the struggle has to be more fun, more interesting to you than anything else. In fact, the work has to become the reward in itself, the accomplishment just the cherry on top. Also, you could be working ‘hard’, but really you just doing busy work and avoiding the actual crucial but painful tasks that will make a difference. But that’s a topic for another day.

3. You don’t love it enough

If you loved it, like really loved it like you said you did. You would do anything for it. There would be no excuses, no retreat, no surrender. You would do what it takes, you would learn what it takes, you would pay the price. You have to decide if you really love the idea of what you are capable of. It is not a love that comes easy, it must be cultivated. You cultivate it by doing it, by investing in it, by nurturing it – with your time, with your energy, with your pain. Sure, you have the initial spark, the thing that ignites the passion and excitement to pursue your potential. But you have to fan that flame into a blazing fire. You have to love it, like really love it. But that love is nurtured by the amount of attention and work you put into it. The work feeds the love, the love feeds the work like a perpetual cycle.

4. You are too busy trying to keep up with others

Your potential has nothing to do with the next person and what they are doing. Everyone is on their own path, and everyone has to give account of themselves to themselves and their creator at the end of their lives. Comparison and keeping up with the Joneses are diseases that will cripple you, taking you off your path and unto a futile chase. You chase things you don’t really want, buy things you can’t really afford, to impress people you don’t really like and lose yourself in the process. You have to focus and stay true to you – whoever you are. And I promise you, the more you do that, the more you nurture your potential, the less desire you would have to compare yourself to another, and the more content you would be. Because your soul will be full.

5. Your ego blinds you

To reach your potential, you have to admit that what you are doing now and where you are isn’t working. You have to be open to correction. You cannot be so arrogant to assume that you know all it takes to get you where you want to go. You have to learn to be ego-less, you have to do things you don’t like to learn the things you don’t know. You have to humble yourself to take real action. In the pursuit of your potential, everyone becomes a teacher, even your enemies, even those that get on your nerves. You have to let go of this ego, this person you think you are, this self-image you have created and open yourself to so much more.

6. Your habits and addictions destroy you

You know them. The things you cling on to in order to cope. To cope with the dullness of life, or even the fact that you know deep down in your soul that you are not where you should be. It could be the obvious choices for abuse – drugs, alcohol, sex. It could be even more insidious – oversleeping, entertainment, negativity. Your habits of thought and action are slowly destroying you and you don’t even know it. Every second, minute, hour, day spent indulging those things are seconds, minutes, hours and days lost. Time that could have been invested in pursuing your potential. You have to fix it. Focus on your pursuit, do what it takes, and these things will lose their hold on you. You will have something higher to strive for. 

7. You are distracted

You can’t even focus on pursuing your potential, because you are too distracted. Your attention is everywhere rather than on what matters the most to you. You wake up and the first thing you reach for is your phone and your digital drug of choice. You spend your days completely driven by the agendas of others, businesses, your boss, your family, media. And some of these things are valid and necessary, but you let them crowd out your dreams, your potential, that thing that you must do. You don’t reach your potential because you don’t focus long enough for you to attain them, and trust me, it requires a lot of focus. You have to steal time and energy for yourself. Even if it’s just one hour a day.

There are so many reasons more you don’t reach your potential, we could talk about discipline, we could talk about fear, we could talk about self-awareness and excuses, but we’ll stop here for today. Take the time every week to meditate on each of these points and consider if they apply and resolve to do something about it. You are capable of so much more, you just have to embrace it.

If you enjoyed this piece and think someone you know could benefit from it, feel free to share it with them. 

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