10 Steps to Fully Recognizing Your Potential

Guest post by Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition, the UK’s leading career development and career learning company and the Career Ignition Club.

How do we know when we’ve got potential? At what point in our life has somebody indicated to us that we have something latent within us that is powerful and influential and is going to take us somewhere?

Moments dating back to our early life, like a teacher saying something, feedback on a school report, parents rewarding us for, indicated there was something going on for us, a possibility that existed within us. This promise was subsequently played out by academic or extracurricular achievements or some other form of accomplishment that marked us out as someone with potential. Whatever stage you’re at in your life and in your career, it’s time for you to now fully recognize that potential.

1.    Know Your Assets

It is very useful for you to have a clear understanding of what you believe your assets to be. In this context, what we mean by assets is the credentials you’ve achieved – academic and professional qualifications, for example. Our potential sits in that baseline of assets as well. Ask yourself: With my background, with my experience what is it I can do?

2.    Take Interference Out of the Equation

If we accept the truth of the equation performance = potential – interference, we have to find the interferences in our life that are getting in the way of recognizing our potential. Some people are able to fully recognize their potential and just keep on cruising, whatever’s going on in their lives. For most of us however, things just do get in our way and that then leads me to think about how important resilience is in minimizing disruption. The sort of things that can get in the way of us optimizing our performance relate to our own disposition and our own health. For instance, something that happens in the family may temporarily derail us, but in the long term we have to look at how we can deal with it, navigate our way around it and not let it upset our motivation and drive to recognise our potential in the future.

3.    Plot Timelines

We live in such a high paced world that we sometimes think we’ve got to do everything by the end of the week or the end of the month. Whoever said it was a race? One of the greatest Presidents of the United States failed at various times in their life – in business, in politics and even in their private life, experiencing tragedy and a nervous breakdown. But they kept on running for office until late in their life and went on to become a superb President – President Abraham Lincoln. The kind of knocks that he took and that many people take along the way can actually be turned to one’s advantage. Our latent power can influence our ability to optimise our potential, so that we can get to those positions in life where we can make our potential count.

4.    Live with Purpose

When you have purpose it gives you an inner sense of energy and motivation to keep on doing what you’re doing and to be better every day. People who do not have that are unaligned with their potential. Their potential isn’t being fulfilled in the same way as it might be.

5.    Take Time to Reflect

Reflect on just where you are at the moment. Think about it in terms of your timeline. Don’t get overheated or over ambitious; recognise that, so long as you’re fit and healthy, there’s plenty of time ahead of you. The mantra of “Your best years are ahead of you” is absolutely true in terms of recognizing your potential. Think about the way you manage your professional life now and how you can improve on that to the point where you can use both good and bad experiences.

6.    Grow Your Potential

What are we doing that’s allowing our potential to grow? Potential is not static; the more we invest in our own learning and development, the more we increase our potential. Commit to taking a course at your further education college, subscribing to an industry journal, listening to informative podcasts or webinars on your MP3 player or joining a career development club.

7.    Be Self-Disciplined

The more disciplined you are personally and in the way you carry out your work and lead your professional life, the easier it is for you to manage it. You’ll also get more respect from colleagues. For example, make a point to always return calls so you’re seen to be responsible.

8.    Build Relationships of Trust

Building trust with your colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, suppliers and so on is absolutely fundamental to unleashing your potential in your professional life. Do what you say you’ll do. Let the principle behind the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person” be true of you.

9.    Get an External Opinion

Someone such as a relative, friend, colleague, mentor or career coach may be able to recognise our potential better than we actually can. As they’re on the outside, they’re sometimes in a better position to observe how we grow over time. We’re not always the best judge of our development because we’re living it and inside our own lives. Consider getting feedback from someone with the ability to be objective.

10. Set Meaningful Parameters

In this context, parameters are data points that we use to check how far we’re moving along our pathway of potential. That can tie us up in knots because we might use parameters that are common but don’t necessarily mean much to us, parameters such as job titles. Judging how fancy our job title is isn’t necessarily the same as recognizing our potential. Yet we tend to measure potential by how far we see ourselves moving up some sort of professional escalator rather than what we may believe is something more meaningful to us.

positionignitionlogoAbout the author:

Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members. Follow Simon North and his team on twitter @PosIgnition and get more advice from him on their Career Advice Blog.

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