How to determine your Potential

Be All That You Can Be.” says the US Army motto —but what does it mean to be all that you can be? In my work with CEO’s and entrepreneurs, few people have a clear understanding of what they can truly be. Yet, this is critical because knowing your potential is one of the largest determining factors of living it out.

So how do you determine your potential? Here are three things I believe are required in this process: Your personal visionmotivation drivers and execution capability. Let’s look at each one of these and how you can reflect on them:

First: Personal Vision
The first determinant of your potential is your mindset. Your concept of what you want do and be in life. This is what sets the bar for how you show up in life. Are you content showing up for work as you do today because that’s all you see, or do you have a sense of something more in your life that is clear and compelling? Most people end up becoming the five people we hang out with the most because they become their environment, these influences sets our concept for what is possible.
How do you develop your personal vision. First, expose yourself to learning. Read great books, challenge your assumptions, travel the world, learn about the different philosophies, world religions, belief systems and mental models. Too few people challenge themself with learning that contradicts the current beliefs they hold. The more perspective you have the greater your ability to know why you want to become what you want to be.

Secondly, take time to define the future you want to have. One tool I’ve used is the Wheel of Life. Spend some time and get away to reflect on these core areas. In a perfect world what would your life look like in the following areas?

From this, I create a vision board that has imagery that represents the future I’m targeting. It is no coincidence the top athletes, performers and leaders use visualization in their life. TD Bank did a research project on the topic and found:

  • One in five small business owners used a vision board or other representation when starting the business, and among those respondents, 76 percent reported that their business is today where they envisioned it would be when they started it.
  • Eighty-two percent of small business owners that used a vision board from the get-go reported that they have accomplished more than half the goals they included on that board.

When I created a vision board with several things on it I thought would take over 5 years or more, I had it nearly 100% complete within 3 years. It just works.

From this process I also create a Personal Mission Statement. A way to state my vision and why in a sentence or two. A personal mission statement is a powerful tool because it gives you permission to say no to the things that are distractions and yes to the right things.

Second: Motivation Drivers
What motivates you in life? For many if they haven’t been intentional with it, it is fear.  New York Times bestselling author Dr Timothy Keller surmises there are four root drivers that drive our motivational behavior:

  1. Power: a longing for influence or recognition
  2. Control: a longing to have everything go according to my plan
  3. Comfort: a longing for pleasure
  4. Approval: a longing to be accepted or desired

These are often the default motivators that often are negative and fear based (scarcity). Knowing yourself and which of the above has a tendency to move you to fear instead of love or passion is key. And while fear is the most common motivator thankfully it is not the most powerful. This is what lets a parent jump in front of a car to save their child. Love is stronger than fear.

To develop your motivators, understand your values. What causes you to make the decisions you make. What drives you and causes the passion within you to come alive? I picked 5 core values for my life and reflect on these often, sometimes daily to ensure I’m being authentic and making choices that cause me to see the abundance in life and tap into my passion, not the scarcity. To go after you full potential will require tapping deeply into these motivations because challenges will come and try to knock you off the path, but only having a clear sense of purpose will help you stay on track and committed to work through the perceived roadblocks in your way.

Third: Execution Capability
Execution capability is where the rubber meets the road. You can have the two above in spades but they are meaningless unless you act on them. As Charles Bukowski said, “Potential doesn’t count for much. Almost every baby in the crib has more potential than me. What matters is doing!” I think it comes down to two things; willingness, are you willing to put in the work and capability, what experience, talent, abilities do you bring to the table. Your living out your potential means gaining experiences, failing and getting back up and learning new skills so that all your raw and natural elements are put to use.

Combining the motivation and execution creates the disciplines, habits and mindsets that come together into the full potential of a person.

While I understand this is a huge topic that I’ve only scratched the surface on, I hope this framework can be helpful as you consider where you are and where you want to be.

What did I miss? What else do you think plays into determining your potential?

Feel free to DM me and I can shoot you to a handful of the tools & resources I use to do the process as well as some articles on these topics that I find helpful.