Our current Quick iOpener Survey (QiS) about Achieving Your Potential is still up and running until the end of January 2021. Please take the survey for yourself here and help us gather more insights.
An initial and hopeful insight is that 45% of you say that you’re achieving more potential right now than ever before. The answer range starts with those of you who say you reached it at a young age (one person says it was at 8 years old) to those who say you have never - or haven’t yet - reached your potential. If you’re one of these people, you talk about the feeling that it’s yet to come.
These are powerful declarations that may well have an impact on how you feel as you go about your daily activities. And they confirm my personal belief that Achieving Your Potential is an elastic and changeable concept.
I remember a 35 year old coaching client saying to me, “I always dreamed of achieving this position in my company. But now that I have landed my dream job, I don’t know what to do. Worse still, I feel that things are going to be downhill from now onwards.” What a thought! One that we worked through to be able to set new goals that would be next on their list.
From a personal standpoint, I prefer to think of potential in the same way that I do optimism. Recent research finds that realistic optimism is key for creating resilience (Avia, 2009; Luthans & Youssef-Morgan, 2017). Equally, having a realistic growth mind set (Yeager & Dweck, 2012) around potential helps to keep reaching incrementally for loftier objectives and consistently reaching them.
This makes things easier if, for example, you are coming back to a sports activity after some time of not practicing it. On the first day, you find that you can’t do as much as you previously could. Depending on variables like age and time since you last did the activity, this is only to be expected. Slowly, as you get back into the habit, it becomes easier and you find that you can stretch yourself (physically or metaphorically) more and more. Every day you achieve a little bit more of this particular kind of potential.
Achieving Your Potential is at the centre of the iOpener Performance Happiness Model™ and at the core of your Happiness at Work.
Get your Happiness at Work report:
Register for your own Happiness at Work report here. Once you’ve completed the Happiness at Work (iPPQ) survey, you’ll receive your comprehensive report, which includes individualized self coaching questions on various aspects of the Performance Happiness Model.
If you are particularly high scoring in a particular area, you will notice that the self-coaching question becomes, “What can you do to maintain this high level of … (e.g. motivation / commitment / relationship, etc.)?”. This is key. Because, once you reach a high level in any of these elements, you have to work at staying there. Generally, it doesn’t just happen on its own.
Caution: Don’t think of your potential as finite
If you think of potential as something that is finite, it could turn into a limiting belief. However, when your idea of reaching potential is linked to milestones and/or skilful and strategic goalsetting, then it becomes inspirational. Especially when you remember to give yourself the time to savour the satisfaction of having reached your objective; be it a promotion, presenting at the conference most related to your area of expertise, publishing an article, writing a book, or getting your PhD.
Savour, celebrate and then move on, always looking for something that will feel purposeful, that you are inspired to work towards, and that you will know when you get there.
Work with a cheerleader
Finally, we need to include the idea that reaching and going beyond what you thought was your potential can be in the eye of the beholder.
Think back to a time when someone told you that they believed in you and your capacity to do something that you yourself had thought impossible. It was as if they were waving a magic wand and tapping you on the shoulder with it. An objective observer can be much better at spotting our strengths and potential than we are ourselves.
If you don’t already have this kind of cheerleader present in your life, working with a coach could be the answer: Someone who can give you a new perspective and an electrifying jolt of inspiration.
Mindset is key
• Set goals that inspire you to give your best effort
• Activate the belief that there will always be something more you can do
• Celebrate and savour reaching your goals before moving on to the next one
• Get objective input from a trusted coach or mentor as to where you could be stretching yourself more
Avia, M. D. (2009). Nueva mirada al Optimismo inteligente. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación Del Profesorado, 66(0213–8646), 73–84.
Luthans, F., & Youssef-Morgan, C. M. (2017). Psychological Capital: An Evidence-Based Positive Approach. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4(1), 339–366. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032516-113324
Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2012.722805