In some ways it would be accurate to say that nobody ever truly fulfills their potential. No matter what we achieve there is always room to grow and reach ever greater heights.
However, each one of us knows if we are at least coming close to utilizing the talents and capabilities we have, even if sometimes we try and kid ourselves otherwise so we don’t have to leave our discomfort zone.
And make no mistake you cannot truly excel without leaving your comfort zone. The original title of my blog was called The Discomfort Zone and the tagline that preceded it read, “You cannot get from where you are to where you want to be without passing through….The Discomfort Zone”.
You can read more about your comfort zone and how it maybe limiting you in this post called, amazingly enough, ‘The Discomfort Zone’.
When I worked in sales, or at least for the last 5 years or so, I knew I wasn’t even coming close to fulfilling my potential and I was very much sat in the middle of my comfort zone that brought a good income and sales ‘success’.
Sales is a much underrated skill, but even so, it’s not a skill that many kids dream of acquiring when they get older. Equally, it’s not a skill that’s difficult to master if you’re prepared to do the work, which I did. However, it was leaving me totally unfulfilled and disillusioned.
Even now I know I can do more (because all of us can), but the big difference between now and then is that now I am constantly looking for ways to push myself.
I’m not suggesting that I don’t ever take the easy way out of short term pleasure over long-term gain, of course I do and sometimes that’s fine, but the occasions are a lot less frequent and I’m better at seeing the big picture.
One of the saddest human emotions is, in my opinion, that of regret.
When I walked away from sales, I knew that if I didn’t I’d regret it later on in life, presuming that was I didn’t have a heart attack on the job and not even have time to feel regret.
It was the same when it came to moving to the United States. It was the fear of regret that drove us on.
Shortly before we finally decided to leave England I had a sales meeting with the owner of a travel business.
When I walked into the boardroom for the meeting there was a huge map of the US all along one wall. I looked at it and said something to the effect of “Wow, what’s that all about then? Do you only do vacations to America?”
That wasn’t the case. The lady went on to tell me that ten years prior she and her husband had been granted a visa to move to the US. Unfortunately, her husband’s mum was very ill at the time and as she was in her mid-eighties they decided to wait until she passed away before they emigrated.
A decade later and the old lady was still alive. They had lost their visa and along with it any chance of moving.
The regret was palpable and a real motivator for me to, quite frankly, stop dicking around and get on with the process no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel.
Most people don’t even come close to fulfilling their true potential and the reason is because, as I say, it requires that element of discomfort as well as oftentimes a lot of hard work (which in and of itself is uncomfortable for most people).
I have twice worked with young golfers looking to turn professional. It was an interesting experience because it’s a sport that is ultra competitive and one where 99.99% of young hopefuls fail to make it to the professional ranks.
Moreover, 99.999% fail to hit it big and make a good living. Not great odds are they?
My post 'The Secret of Success' may give you a small insight into what I think is required to step out of the pack and excel based on my experience with those two young golfers.
One reason many people never get even close to achieving their full potential is because their brain is often conspiring against them.
You may think that’s a weird thing to say because your brain is part of you and as such it should have your best interests at heart, right?
Well of course it should, and of course it does. Unfortunately whereas your iPhone may be running OS6 or whatever number is the latest when you read this page, parts of your brain are still on Version 1.1.
In fact, to make things even worse, the part of your brain often called the reptile brain which includes the limbic system, is probably still closer to Version 1.0.
The limbic system hosts your amygdala which is responsible for your fight or flight response that can often be triggered by relatively benign situations.
Your prefrontal cortex knows damn well that the speech you have to give doesn’t pose any real personal threat, but your entire neocortex has been upgraded to operating system version 2.0 and isn’t communicating with the old part of your brain.
That is why knowing something at a conscious level such as air travel is safer than car travel, public speaking is harmless, and asking for a date will at worst result in slight embarrassment is useless if your limbic system has already tagged it as dangerous and set the fight or flight response in motion.
One great starting point to move toward maximizing your potential is to set goals that really push you.
There’s no problem aiming very high with goal setting because that’s what the super successful do. What’s better, setting a goal to earn $100,000 next year and hitting it, or setting one to earn $1,000,000 and only getting to $900,000?
Some people think if they miss a goal they have failed. Utter nonsense. To never try is to fail. EVERY successful person fails and, counter-intuitevly, the super successful fail again and again and again.
The difference is, they learn from their mistakes, adjust accordingly, and start again with new information and more experience.
Michael Jordan has missed more free throws than any other basketball player in NBA history. Brett Favre threw more interceptions than any other quarterback in NFL history. Tiger Woods lost 4 times more Majors than he won. What a bunch of failures, eh?
In business, Richard Branson has had multiple businesses fail. He also failed twice to be the first person to balloon ’round the world, break the British Kite Surfing record for crossing the British Channel, and failed in his bid to run the British Lottery. Is he a failure too?
Should Thomas Edison have quit a few times into trying to figure out the design for the filament of an electric light bulb?
And what about that failure Abraham Lincoln, who never even won an election until he got into his 60’s. He’s such a failure they put him on the $5 bill!
Think of any major medical breakthrough and you will find a litany of failures that preceded the success. There have been scientists spend their entire working lives just trying to figure out one problem. Some even never solved it, but they did enough work to allow others to later on history. Are they failures?
You can fail at something and that’s ok; we ALL do. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, but maybe not trying and refusing to leave your comfort zone does? I’ll let you decide, because in all honesty, if you are genuinely happy and don’t feel the need for more, then that’s enough in my book.
If you want help setting some big hairy audacious goals then this video can help tremendously.
If you prefer a written, more in-depth version, you can get my book "How Do I Set Goals That Work" free by clicking the button below!
And this short video may help, as I explain to an audience at The Ritz-Carlton Club, how using the wrong language can seriously inhibit you moving forward in life and maximizing your potential.
You'll Be Amazed What You Can Accomplish By Following My Advice and Using All These Tactics
Do you have bigger mountains to climb and need personal help fulfilling your potential? Then reach out to me using the button below!