Realizing Our Potential

Self Actualizing, in the broadest sense, means realizing one's full potential.  However, this sort of very broad concept remains just that, a concept, unless we bring it into more concrete terms.

Realizing one's full potential must be preceded by clearly identifying one's full potential.  I have been thinking about this lately because I believe it is incumbent upon my role as a manager and leader to help my staff achieve at their fullest capacity, and to that, we first have to cleave through the quagmire of good and bad external inputs that have been accumulated over the years.  This endeavor undoubtedly includes a thorough evaluation one's personal values and guiding principles, since they are so foundational to our daily behaviors.  This introspection would reveal in anyone, that at least some of our values and guiding principles are not truly of our own design nor choosing, rather, they have merely been imprinted upon us through various life experiences.

I bring this up, as it is not unusual to have accumulated some idea of our potential, or more likely, the limitations of our potential, through our life experiences, including opinions or even projections laid upon us over the years, at least some of which may have been consciously or even unconsciously accepted, and then subsequently re-enforced as personal limitations.   I assure you, that none of these limitations are real, though some aspects of our potential may be less easily realized than others.

So, to realize our true potential, we must first remove the self-imposed, or at least accepted, limitations we have picked up over time and have since continued to apply and re-enforce.  Re-enforced you say?  Yes, haven't you ever heard someone say, "Oh, I could never do that!", well, it just isn't true!   Yet we accept these notions of our limitations, and then, unwittingly re-enforce them without even questioning them.

Having questioned and removed these limitations, thereby discovering a new and greater potential to realize for ourselves, we must then embark on the second challenge, which is how go about achieving self-actualization. By far, the greatest barrier to self actualization is overcoming our own fears, expressed most commonly by finding it impossible to even begin.  It is so ironic, that the reality is in plain view, like the nose on our face, and just as we have lived within falsely imposed limitations regarding our potential, we live within the notion that the realization of our potential is inaccessible to us.  The truth is that all we have to do is begin!  Like walking across a balance beam, we must begin, and even if we falter, or even fall, there is nothing more required than to get back up and continue, and before you know it, you are at the other end.

I often tell people, when discussing this sort of challenge, that, "I don't know how to do my job; rather, I know how to do things I don't know how to do".  What is meant by this is that I do not undertake my role in a formulaic manner, like following the recipe for a cake, as everyday bring new challenges, and requires adaptations, both small and large, to do the job well. 

The realization of each of our potential is so close and accessible, yet it can seem virtually impossible.  I think of people that I have offered to help in learning to play the guitar, and how they are commonly discouraged after the first half an hour.  Guess what; everyone, I mean everyone, is a complete clod in the beginning.  However, with just a little more perseverance, such as practicing three chords, twenty times each, each evening for a week, huge progress will be discovered.  Likewise, the realization of each of our full potential begins with one step, and then another, supported by the courage and belief that you can and will ultimately achieve your objective. 

I know this about myself, and I have no less confidence in each and every one of you.  I invite and encourage you to tear away those falsely applied limitations and to begin anew, to truly realize your full potential.  Seek the support and partnership from those around to fortify your courage and commitment, calling upon your friends, family, coworkers and myself. Stick your neck out, be adventurous, explore beyond those artificial horizons you have lived within so far, and revel in the discovery of just how amazingly capable each of your really are!

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