The Truth and Lies of Realising Your Potential

Hello - it’s that annoying person in the bathroom mirror again.

Yes, they’re looking at YOU.

And they just asked you that question - AGAIN.

'Are you realising your full potential?'

Take a good look at them.

How do they appear to you?

Relaxed, joyful and at peace with themselves? Or anxious, shameful and dissatisfied?

I’m guessing it’s not the former. Contented people tend not to read articles like this. 

So, take another look.

This is YOU.

Now. In this present moment.

This is how YOU are being with YOU.

How does it feel?

Familiar? Probably.

Easy? I guess so.

Energising? Life affirming? Soul boosting?

Doubtful.

'I Feel Like I'm Not Realising My Potential'

The quest to realise our potential is very ‘in vogue’ these days – Google alone returns 53 million+ items about the subject in its search results.

It may not surprise you that: 'I feel like I am not realising my potential', is one of the most common sentiments expressed by many clients when they first contact me.  

The happiness 'gurus' don't help: on one hand they tell us a fulfilled life means meeting one's potential, and on the other, they tell us to accept ourselves just as we are.

So it's certainly something that preys on a lot of our minds, causing no end of anguish and self-doubt. 

Part of the problem as I see it, is in our understanding.

'Potential' means the capacity to do something in the future, ie at a point in time that hasn't occurred yet. 

So how can a person's potential ever be fully realised?  

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.
— Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown's Little Book of Wisdom

Our potential continues to grows as we grow - there is always further capacity. Always. 

You can't put a ceiling on potential. So there's a certain futility about expending excessive amounts of energy thinking about it.

Today you are here and you are breathing. And things are okay.

Tomorrow is likely to be the same. 

But Isn't Your Life Wasted if You Don't At Least Try to Realise Your Potential?

Undeniably, many in our 'have-it-all-do-it-all' generation have grown up with the idea that unless we ‘realise our potential’, then we will have led a sub-optimal life.

Somehow we will have failed. And if we fail, it means we’re not complete. We’re not whole.

We then project this belief on to our families, our children – and our friends.

However, I have often found this to be less about individual potential, and more about living up to others' ideals about what it means to be successful.

And instead of creating true happiness and contentment in our lives now, we spend much of our time and energy thinking around in circles, never getting clear answers and not really knowing what to do for the best.

All because of a popular belief that if we don’t have the ideal job, a 6-figure salary, perfect husband/wife, gorgeous kids, a 6-figure mortgage, and a gas-guzzling 4x4, by the time we're 35 years old, then we’re not realising our potential.

Oh, and did I mention status, validation and approval?

Is it any wonder so many of us end up feeling inadequate, lacking, confused and down-right drained?

The Reassuring Truth

'Potential’ is not something you need to aspire to. Nor is it ‘out there’, waiting for you to find it.  It’s not the happy ever after. And it’s certainly not the panacea for all your fears, weaknesses and limitations.

You are already complete.

You already have enough to live on this planet.

Your potential is here, within you – right now.

You are living it.

Could you live it more fully? Very likely.

Yes, we can all do more, and better. We can grow from within ourselves, change our course and alter the impact we have in the world, including the people around us.

But that’s a matter of individual choice.

It comes from desire - not from obligation.

It comes from a place of wholeness, and working with our constraints and limitations - not pretending that they shouldn’t exist.

It also means accepting that we are imperfect beings – mistakes, difficulties and failures are an inevitable part of our experience and our growth.

And it means doing whatever you do because YOU want to, for your own self-affirming reasons, and that you see genuine value in it.

Not because some else said you should.

We Can Learn from Nature’s Wisdom 

(It wouldn't be a Walking Coach article otherwise :-) )

When we look at a flower in full bloom, or a playful dog wagging its tail, or a bird singing its heart out on a treetop, what we see is true presence and beauty.

Pure and simple.

Nobody can argue with that. Nobody would even think to judge it.

We don’t see any of these 'other than human-beings' worrying about whether they are 'enough' of a flower, a dog or a bird.  We don't see them questioning their worth.

They aren’t tussling with their thoughts over whether or not they are living up to their full potential.

They don't need validation. Or approval.

They are simply being exactly who or what they are, and doing what they do, naturally instinctively, fully and joyfully.

They are living freely in their innate potential.

And so do you - whenever you commit wholeheartedly to living, loving and working at your best.

Now, Ask Yourself The REAL Question

Do you know who you are?

Do you know what energises you? Fascinates you? What really lights you up?

Do you know where you shine? Your virtues? 

What's really, really important?

Why?

The key to a life lived well is to know yourself. And in knowing yourself, you can work with the flow of yourself, rather than against it.  

If you embrace your story – talents, warts, weaknesses and all - unfettered by the expectations and opinions of others, it will powerfully resource you to meet the opportunities and challenges of the life you choose to lead.

As a result, you will be able to be far more creative and powerful than you may have thought.

This is not a process you can rationalise or entirely control, though it is the source of everything that will feel most meaningful and true to you.

Go ahead. Dream into the future. Imagine what you would love, love, love to accomplish in your life. And go for it. 

But be yourself. And do it because it has meaning to you - and value.

Be clear about your Why.

(I am sure it will NOT be because you want to realise your potential)

In so doing, you may well find yourself at some point in the future where you are able to look back and it will all make sense.  

You will most likely discover that indeed you lived your life well and you did it full-out.

You did your best. And that was more than enough.


Fed Up with Pretending? Ready to Claim Your Dream?

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We invite you to experience with us the most powerful form of coaching that we know - walking, talking, thinking and connecting with your dreams, making them a reality, while helped by your guide and inspired by nature.

Take a look at our sample programmes, and if you like the flavour of what you see, then let's talk.

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