Think of someone you know who would be 10 times more successful if they would just follow good advice. Maybe it is a coworker who has a lot of potential if he’d just show up for work on time and comb his hair. Maybe it is a relative who just needs to get some basic money management skills so he or she isn’t always broke. Maybe it is a friend who just isn’t willing to take the risks necessary to apply for a job where his talents could really be used.
My point is that everyone can look around and find people they know who aren’t living up to their full potential because of they way they view life. Maybe it is a simple mental shift, a discipline they need to acquire or just constrained thinking, but it is easy to spot those types of things in people around us.
It is much harder to see the same thing in ourselves.
If you want to reach your full potential, one of the most powerful things you can do is to turn every criticism you have for others into the question, “Am I doing something similar?”
For example, I have a friend who works in technology, but really hasn’t made any type of advancement in the last 10 years. Great jobs come available, but he doesn’t even apply for them because he isn’t qualified. In the last 10 years, he hasn’t grown to the point where he is qualified for these jobs. It is as if he has a self-imposed ceiling on what he is willing to think he is capable of and just assumes he will never go higher than that ceiling.
It is easy for me to see all the things he needs to do to make his life better and I’m happy to give advice if he asks, but the most valuable thing I can do is take the advice I have for him (that he isn’t asking for) and turn it back on myself. I can see that he has set very low goals for himself, but what are the areas where I’ve set low goals for myself? What advice would someone from the outside have for me? Are there areas where I’m settling for a 5, but I’m capable of a 9 or a perfect 10?
This goes beyond just setting goals. It has to do with the way people think. If you talk to people in construction, you’ll find some people who are looking for $2,000 to $5,000 jobs. That is how they think and everything is on that level. You’ll find other people who think in terms of $50,000 jobs and others who think in terms of $100,000 or $1,000,000. There is a big difference between the way you think when you are looking for a $1,000,000 contract and the way you think when you are looking for a $2,000 contract or an hourly job.
Most of the limits in our lives are internal. They are things we place on ourselves. The hardest things to get past are the barriers we don’t even know we’ve created. So how do you recognize those barriers? Let’s close with four ideas to consider:
- When you have advice for others, see if you can apply it to yourself. Think about the fundamental issues and see if you are making similar mistakes you are overlooking in your own life.
- Try to keep variety in your friendships. If all your friends think the same as you do, it is unlikely they will challenge you to see things in a new way.
- Ask yourself “why don’t I think bigger?” You may have a very good reason, but you also might be limiting yourself just because you don’t know any better.
- Solicit feedback. It is hard to get people who will give you honest feedback, but if you can find them, they can be very valuable in your personal growth.
Jonas Salzgeber says
Interesting thoughts. Seeing potentials in others comes easy, but with ourselves?
I want to try to get more personal feedback, I think this can have a great impact. I think it’s what Hal Elrod recommends: To ask people about 3 things we could improve ourselves, and things they think we’re good at.
Thanks for the reminder and the idea!
Corey Tat says
I really liked your article, you hit on some really good points.
Jim Rohn said it the best, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I have two groups of friends. Some are very driven and have done very well in their careers.
My other group of friends are not as career focused, and even though they are in their mid 30’s they haven’t made much progression in their mindset in terms of planning for their future and fulfilling their true potential.
Now that I have a family, and I am an entrepreneur, my time is very limited. So I don’t spend as much time with my friends that are not as driven, but I still keep my friendships with them.
The best point you made is, it’s easy to criticize and view others. However, it is much better to look within and make the choice to commit to excellence and fulfill our true potential.
Soham Amatya says
I have a friend like yours too. She’s got a great potential to be wherever she wants to be but she chooses to work a low-salary job. It’s been years she’s stuck in the same job with the same amount of pay. And the worst part is – she doesn’t want a better job.
I think one of the main reasons why people don’t want to try something new is because they’re afraid of change.
They also have a very low self-esteem which in turn makes them stagnant.
Anyways, thumbs up for such a helpful post. I really hope people get motivated to have more success in life. :)
Justin Stowe says
Great article Mark.
This reminds me of the Bible verse Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I find myself doing that a lot! I’ll tell someone to do one thing (like eat fewer carbs, block blue light before bed to sleep better, etc.) but then not even follow my own advice.
I like that you said to have a variety of friendships. I’ve read many authors say to only surround yourself with top performers. I think getting multiple perspectives is good, even if it’s just to help us learn what NOT to do!