The Seduction of Potential
Here’s the thing – we all have potential, maybe some more than others, but we all have it.
Potential is easy to recognise, but not so easy to realise. Most of us intrinsically recognise the gift of potential, but many simply choose to do nothing about it, and sadly, it’s the rare few who will maximise their potential.
People in today’s world trade on and reward potential as if it were performance – it’s not.
For example in Sports, a footballer who has ‘potential’ is snapped up and given a huge signing on fee and contract on the basis of potential. In organisations and Churches people may be given a position, a role, a title based on potential.
Most people are fed a steady diet of potential from the moment they’re born. Parents, teachers, coaches, and eventually employers all contribute to the problem by overrating potential as a certain predictor of future performance. Potential affords no surety of outcome; it merely offers hope. While hope can clearly serve as an inspiration, it can also quite easily become a delusion. Leaders would be well advised to place less stock in potential and focus their attention on effort and outcome. We must stop looking for leaders and recognize the leadership skills of those who exhibit more than just potential.
Good leaders don’t promote people hoping they’ll perform – they promote people after they perform.
Ability and aptitude are only gifts if understood and used. The cold hard truth is you’re not special because of your potential, you’re special because of your dogged pursuit of your potential, and you’re even more special when you achieve your potential. Don’t tell others how gifted you are, provide them with tangible evidence you know how to use your giftedness – show them.
Realising potential requires three things. Focus, Dedication and Determination.
In 1 Corinthians 15:58 Paul says,
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain
- FOCUS: Writing to these believers Paul encourages them to Stand Firm. This speaks of focus. A clear vision of what could be fuelled by a conviction that it should be. In order to realise potential you and I will need to stay focussed. “If everything becomes important then nothing is important.” We must keep our focus, our eyes on the prize.
- DEDICATION: Let Nothing Move You, he goes on to say. Be unmoveable. When you and I face set backs, disappointments or failures this is when our dedication to the goal needs to kick in. Dedication is the realm of the unseen. It will cause you to pray, fast and sacrifice in secret in order to see a breakthrough. The dedicated leader isn’t someone who is hopping from one thing to the next but sees something through and their dedication to the task can ensure that they keep taking what’s been entrusted to them to new heights and new levels.
- DETERMINED: Always Give Yourself FULLY. I love this picture of a determined and passionate leader. One who is determined to find a way, to find the right way.When we have done something for a while we can become blind to problems and improvements that require our attention. That’s where we need to be determined. Determined to ask the tough questions of ourselves, determined to deal with personal stuff. Most leaders who fail to maximise their potential do so because their personal stuff hijacked them.
The determined leader will not settle but keep perusing improvements.
So in closing are the things you are responsible for improving?
Is your contribution making things better?
Are you making things better today?
We often talk about sweet spots and think that one day when I find the right conditions, when the planets align then I’ll be in my sweet spot. The truth is however, that your sweet spot is the cumulation of these three traits. Focus, dedication and determination…
Potential is everywhere – it’s time to realise it.