Potential

One of the most often mis-understood aspects of self-development is the concept of potential. We are often told that we can achieve our full potential, however, what does this really mean? When the focus is building self-esteem and motivating individuals to do better, there is often the implication that potential is a destination or an end-point that can be reached, and if we just strive for "it", we will reach "it". But, what is "it"?

The Meaning of "It"

The definition that I particularly like states that potential is "the inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being" (www.dictionary.com). What is particularly appropriate about this definition is that "it" is not a destination. "It" is a capacity or ability that we all have within us that can be brought to bear to improve ourselves and, by extension, our lives. Potential is one aspect of a process that enables us to grow and develop. If we think of potential as a destination, we limit our thinking and our actions to that which we believe we are capable or to the state of being that we have currently achieved. While we may lead ourselves to believe that we have "achieved" our potential (i.e. reached our destination), in reality, we have simply settled on a level of potential that we find comfortable, at least initially. Unfortunately, without the challenge of more to come, the comfort goes away and we become disappointed. After having worked so hard to get somewhere, we find that that somewhere is not where we want to be. If we believe that we have "achieved" our potential, we may also begin to believe that there is no further development possible and, as a result, our disappointment turns into unhappiness. This unhappiness then begins to drive our lives such that we become focused on eliminating the unhappiness rather than on being happy. This is a subtle difference, but one that can have a profound impact on our view of ourselves and our lives. If we rightly believe that our potential is simply part of the ongoing process that is our life and that what we have achieved is not the end but the beginning of more things to come, we can avoid the negativity of disappointment and unhappiness and create, for ourselves, an environment in which we can continue to grow and prosper.

Continuous Improvement

Fundamental to potential is the human capacity to learn, to take on new experiences and to use those experiences to influence our thinking, our feelings and our behaviours. This means that our potential is limitless as it continues to grow throughout our lives. It also means that the greater and more varied our experiences, the greater is our ability to grow and develop. As we go through our daily routines, it is important to take the attitude that each moment is an opportunity to learn something new in order to increase our potential for further growth. Each new lesson builds on the previous in a limitless cycle of lesson-potential-development. We need to believe that our future lies not in our current abilities, skills and experiences but in our capacity to learn, grow and develop. It is this potential for continuous improvement that leads to contentment and optimism in our lives.

Copyright © 2005 by Peter Cartmill, All rights reserved.

Peter Cartmill is a Personal and Career Coach and the founder of GreatAspirations.ca. To learn more about how Coaching can benefit you, visit http://www.greataspirations.ca

More Resources

Unable to open RSS Feed $XMLfilename with error HTTP ERROR: 404, exiting

More Coaching Information:

Related Articles

Coaching: Change Made Simple
Here's a story that I think gets at why we have such difficulty with change.I was 8 years old and my parents gave me a dollar to go to the toy store with my best friend and his mom.
A Murder Mystery Puzzle for You to Solve
Anybody who has visited my website at Motivation & Self Esteem for Success or has read any of the many articles I have written will realise what a proponent I am of reading books and educating yourself. If you want to become successful at anything you simply must do this, in my opinion.
Live With An Attitude Of Gratitude
Imagine for a moment one of those nights when you just can't fall asleep and you have to get up early the next morning for a very important meeting of which you are the keynote speaker. Your alarm clock goes off early in the morning waking you from what little sleep you had.
A Small Piece Of Carpet
Have you ever noticed how the way you feel about yourself sometimes depends on whether or not you get confirmation of your value from others? When you enter into challenging situations with a positive self identity you will discover that you are living your life with a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.I have learned a lot about nurturing a positive identity of love and appreciation from the man who taught me to train dogs.
Top Ten Things You Would Never Hear a Coach Say (or then again?!)
When coaching, it's all about the client, be that as a professional coach, or a line manager/business owner using coaching skills in their own business, with their own people. But it's so easy sometimes to turn the tables and be the client.
How to Jump-start Your Emotional Health
You've probably heard the expression: "It's not what you're eating. It's what's eating you!" This well-known saying reminds us that the thoughts we entertain can have an impact on our health.
Life On The Receiving End Of Coaching
What is it like to be on the receiving end of mentoring to improve your performance in pocket billiards and at the same time, participate in life changing coaching?You are the reason for all of the things you are going through. Once you accept that, you are then ready to make the changes that will take you to the next level and far beyond.
Managing Your Perfectionism
What Is Perfectionism?This is the first of two newsletters that address perfectionism. In this issue, we will explore what perfectionism is and why it is destructive.
Unhook From The Perpetual Progress Grid
I have been a member of a group called the Women in BusinessConnection (WIBC for short) in Cambridge, MA for about fouryears. We get together for lunch meetings once a month.
Key Questions for a Coaching Conversation
There are 2 key skills that coaches need to be truly effective, the ability to listen (often for what is missing rather than what is said) and the ability to ask the right question at the right time.Now in reality there are no 'right' questions, there are however some very good, and fairly generic questions that when asked which can make a significant difference to the way in which a coaching interaction progresses.
Can I Be My Own ADD Coach?
Quite often I am in contact with people who discuss acting as an ADD Coach for their child or spouse. While supporting and helping loved ones with ADD is a great idea, acting as an ADD Coach really isn't a great idea.
6 Practices for Achieving Excellent Self-Care
Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) often feel like they are running behind schedule, and just don't have the time get everything done. As a result, many ADDers end up sacrificing their own self-care in order to scratch off items on their to-do lists.
Walt Disney, the Inspiration to Form a Better Life?
You, like many others, may have come to this article because you want more from life. In this sense, you and I may be alike because we're searching for greater happiness and a stronger sense of fulfillment.
What in the World is Life Coaching?
In my speaking engagements I have often compared coaching today to psychotherapy in the 1920s. The level of public understanding of coaching, outside of people in a certain socio-demographic category, is still in its infancy.
Beware of Psychic Vampires
I am often asked how I stay happy and motivated all the time. The answer has two parts to it; positivity and self-talk.
How to Coach Yourself!
Some people are not in a position to work with a coach right now. Some are stretched financially, while some are still using the "lone ranger" method.
Relaxation Couldnt Be Simpler
Many people use their sofa and TV to help them 'switch off and relax'. In reality, television programs can suspend you n stress for yours, with depressing or thrilling storylines, violence and madness!True relaxation is achieved when all tensions and thoughts are eliminated.
Could You Be A Workaholic?
If you need to put on boots and grab a lap-top computer to relieve yourself at night, you might be a redneck workaholic.It never crossed my mind that there could be such a thing as a redneck workaholic, until I read a column on "Are you a workaholic?""Did you read this?" I asked my wife.
Attitude is Contagious - Would Anybody Want Yours?
Are you using the Life Potential you have been given? Or are you just existing?We have all inherited standards, traits, habits, perceptions, and expectations based on what our parents, teachers, and peers taught us. We have allowed these to grow as a result of whatever we then learned as adults, and they continue to grow with whatever we feed our minds.
3 Secrets to Developing Superior People Skills
1. If What You Are Doing Is Not Working Change Your ApproachWhen I was in school I always had a small group of close friends but I never found it easy meeting new people.