Five quick thoughts about reaching your potential

Potential seems to be mostly invisible. And it’s invisible by definition. If it was already achieved, it would be visible, and it would no longer be potential.

We can always, always, always do more. That doesn’t mean we always necessarily should do more — doing more, at certain times, might not be productive or even healthy — but whether we should or should not do more, it is always within our power to do more.

The poet Robert Browning wrote,

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?

It’s almost impossible to imagine a situation where something more or better might not have been achieved. And yet perfection in anything is almost impossible.

Here are five quick thoughts about potential that seem to be true.

1. The next level is always within reach

We might see several levels up, but we can’t move several levels at a time. Each one must be navigated in turn. And the next one is always within reach.

2. You probably know someone who’s already there

Most people now have networks, real world and Internet world and a mix between the two, and we have the agency to grow those networks in any way we like. When we seek to climb to the next level, getting a hand up is always a good idea. You probably know someone who’s already on the level you’re aiming at.

3. You always struggle when you first get there

Levelling up brings headaches and problems which you might never have anticipated. As you climb the levels, you’ll come to expect the headaches, and figure out the detail and the way past them as you go. You will be tempted to think that it might be easier to drop back to the previous level. Like all temptations, this will be a test.

4. While striving for the next level, you can still talk nice to yourself

Negative self-talk is never a sustainable strategy. It might occasionally start the engine, but it will never refill the tank, and eventually, if you persist in negative self-talk, you will crash and burn. One big thing about negative self-talk: when you’re aware of it, it’s much easier to interrupt it. So the trick is in flexing the awareness muscle.

5. There’s always a next level

It never stops. There is no line in the sand that marks the end-point. There is no mountain-top. Many climbers who climb Everest try to do it again by a different route, or in shorts. No matter where you are, there’s always another step up. It doesn’t mean that you fail if you choose not to take it, but choosing not to take it doesn’t mean it’s not there.