The pursuit of potential
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
When I first sit down with a client, the first thing they usually tell me is what is wrong with their life.
They then quickly follow with something along the lines of
"I just don't feel like I am reaching or living to my potential".
When I ask them "Well what is your potential?"
They generally reply "I don't really know, but I know Im not at it".
I'll follow up with “What is stopping you from reaching your potential?”
They usually respond with
“I'm unsure - I just feel stuck, lost, broken or I feel like a part of me sabotages my progress just when I start to get somewhere”.
So, how do we sabotage & limit our potential?
Well our potential is limited when we can’t expand past what is or was.
This means people are too busy reliving past events, past limitations, current circumstances. They are recycling old thoughts around and around and around. This keeps them stuck. This keeps them living with the same identity, with the same limits, and the same negative emotions. Unfortunately, in some cases this can even lead to depression.
Let’s back the truck up just a little bit, what even is potential?!
What is reaching your potential? What does that even mean, how do you know what your potential is? How do you know what your FULL potential is? How do you know when you've reached your potential limit? Is there such a thing?
So my friend, the old good dictionary gives the definition of potential as;
Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future
Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness
Showing capacity to develop something in the FUTURE or abilities that may be developed and lead to FUTURE success - this can be confusing because the future never comes right?
How does one reach their potential if it’s always in the future or not yet developed?
As a mentor & therapist this really got me thinking.
The very definition of the word potential is actually unreachable because it's a futurist construct based on your developing & expanding abilities or qualities which will lead you to new perspectives & possibilities, some which are latent (meaning you don’t even know that they exist yet).
So how do you unravel someone's “potential” and how do we grade whether someone is living it or not? How do you know you’ve reached this destination of “potential”? Can it even be a destination knowing that it's forever expanding and one step ahead of us, in the future?
The trap of reaching our potential can mean that we are forever seeking something in the future and through the journey you aren't realising you have been hitting or meeting your potential along the way.
I know I just said that you can't reach your potential but stay with me here, I believe we do get to meet a past version of our potential, this past version was previously out in the future. Because as we get to the fabricated goal post of a “potential”, it’s already once again expanded ahead of us.
From what I've experienced and witnessed with my mentoring work, this can leave some people feeling unfulfilled and unsuccessful because it’s a continual pursuit with no measurable end!
One thing I have learnt from first hand experience & from my clients is that your potential is ever expanding. You never really get to “meet” your potential because as you move towards it, it moves away, it’s always a few sneaky steps ahead of us, always expanding. And the pain clients have or are experiencing when they speak of not reaching or fulfilling their potential, has generally come down to they have actually stopped pursuing their potential.
I believe our potential is not a destination but an experience that is forever expanding.
I also believe this is a good thing, because as you expand yourself and your life, what's available to you expands.
If you were to say to me 12 years ago, Jen, you are going to move to New Zealand, you are going to become a Positive Change Integration mentor as well as a Hypnotherapist, plus your a personal trainer & you have a wealth of knowledge to do with all things health, plus you are going to run your own business and meet XYZ people... I would have literally laughed in your face while holding my cigarette and drinking my bourbon & coke! (true story)
Our potential is fluid and it is always two steps ahead of us! It gives us a sneaky glimpse sometimes of what’s possible so we start the pursuit! But we can never truly reach our full potential because it’s an expansion of self with no limits.
So if you are trying to reach your “potential” surrender to the fact that potential is an ever expanding thing, a futuristic version of you and every time you upgrade your thinking you move to the next level where new possibilities open up for you as does a new level of potential.
We live in a developing and changing world, our knowledge is only capped by our technology - the better our technology gets, the more we expand. Take space for an example - we used to think that we are the only galaxy inside this universe - then with the expansion of technology we discovered that we definitely are not the only planet or galaxy inside the universe, imagine what else we will discover as our technology potential expands yet again!
Another trap in the pursuit of potential is that we then always live in the future, waiting for that thing to happen with thinking like this "I'll be happy when XYZ happens, I'll relax after XYZ, I'll stop & appreciate life when XYZ happens”
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in visualisation, planning & intention setting but sometimes when we are always waiting to fulfil this next level of potential we miss the present moment, the raw real moment happening right in front of us.
How to overcome the battle of never reaching your potential
Below are my top tips to help you manage the pursuit of your potential:
Celebrate the potential you have already fulfilled Get really good at this one. Yes, stop and reflect on what you have achieved, overcome, manifested, healed, gained wisdom from, let go of in the last 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, or even 6months! These are all past potentials that were once in future! Use these questions to help you identify them: What past potentials have I fulfilled? What have been some of my personal breakthroughs, wins or highlights from the past <insert time period>?
Live in the present moment Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, your road will reveal itself as you travel it. Focus on living in the now and doing daily things towards your expansion. Practicing really listening to people, practice being present! Anxiety & stress are all caused from either worry about the future or the past. Get into the NOW moment.
Pursuing your potential means taking risks, being uncomfortable, & sometimes not KNOWING. When you have certain conversations with yourself about whether you should or shouldn't pursue something remember to stay OPEN minded... "I wonder if..." or “I'm curious to see where this takes me..."
Remember there is no destination. We are ever expanding and our potential moves as we move closer to it. Kinda cool though when you really think about it as it means we are always more than what we think we are.
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