New ways to reach your potential

BY Archana Law

Ambitious businesspeople and professionals often spend heaps of time thinking about strategies that will help them reach greater heights of success. They strive for a more impressive job title, higher remuneration, and responsibility for more sizable revenue streams and profits.

Yet, many ultimately lack a true sense of fulfilment despite their efforts and accomplishments!

If you experience similar feelings of frustration or even regret the road you’ve travelled, ask yourself the following: ‘Am I tapping my potential?’ This is not the same as asking ‘How do I rise to the top?’ Or ‘How can I be successful in my career?’

Instead, it’s about considering how you define ‘success,’ and then finding the path to get there. Centuries ago, Aristotle used the terms ‘actuality’ (the realm of existing events and facts) and ‘potentiality’ (the power to effect change or the capacity to make transitions into different states) as contrasting concepts.

So take a step back to reassess your career path and take a fresh look at your behaviour in these areas of your business or profession.

SELF-APPRAISAL Taking responsibility for yourself begins with an accurate assessment of your current skills and performance. Name two or three of your greatest strengths and most significant weaknesses… Most people can list their strengths but struggle with blind spots; and similarly, many tend to be overly self-critical and don’t acknowledge their strengths.

This type of initiative calls for a willingness to confront facts and fears that many of us would rather ignore. The next step is to figure out what you truly enjoy doing – i.e. your dreams and passions – and to reflect on whether the current environment fulfils you. Loving what you do gives you the strength to weather personal setbacks, overcome adversity and work the long hours typically needed to reach your goals.

STANDARDS To make real change, the first thing you should do is raise the bar – and demand more from yourself to make that change. List the things that you will no longer accept in your life, everything you won’t tolerate and all that you aspire to become. Think of the far-reaching consequences set in motion by men and women who raised their standards, and acted in accordance with them. The same power that people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi amongst others had is available to you too – if you have the courage to claim it.

BELIEFS If you raise your standards but don’t really believe you can meet them, you’ve already sabotaged yourself. You may not even try or lack that sense of certainty, which allows you to tap into your full capacity.

Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands telling us how things are, what’s possible and impossible, and what we can or can’t do. They shape every action, thought and feeling that we experience.

As a result, changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting changes to our lives. We must develop a sense of certainty that we can and will meet the new standards before we actually do.

TASKS It’s difficult to succeed if you don’t excel at tasks that are central to your chosen enterprise. That sounds painfully simple but many fail to identify three or four important activities that lead to success at work. For instance, a medical researcher who is conducting cutting-edge research needs to get published and raise funds.

Similarly, an entrepreneur needs to attract, develop and retain outstanding salespeople. Customer segmentation and client relationship management are also very important. In your current job, identifying critical tasks helps you determine how to spend your time and develop skills.

STRATEGY In order to meet your commitment, you need the best strategies for achieving results. The best approach is to find a role model – someone who is already achieving the results you want – and then tap into their knowledge and thought processes. You can fine-tune the wheel, reshape and perhaps even make it better instead of reinventing it.

Every phase of life brings ups and downs: bad days, weeks and sometimes months. All of us face setbacks and discouraging situations, and some of us abandon our plans when we hit a bump. We lose our way and ultimately undermine our own performance, and the wound is all the more painful because it’s self-inflicted.

Nobody can prevent you from reaching your potential. So identify your dream, develop the skills to make it a reality and exhibit the courage to periodically reassess the discipline to make adjustments, as well as the focus to stay on track. Otherwise, as former ice hockey pro Wayne Gretzky said, “you’ll miss one hundred percent of the shots you never take.”