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Are You Living Up to Your Potential?

December 14, 2012

Are You Living Up to Your Potential?

One facet of developmental psychology and individual achievement that has always intrigued me is the notion of human potential. By potential, I’m referring to the inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being. Or, to put it in the much simpler terms that the U.S. Army used as their slogan for more than 20 years from 1980 until 2001, “Be All That You Can Be.”

With this as our foundation, my focus today revolves around the following question: Are you maximizing your potential and being all that you can be?

If you’re like most people, the answer to that question is most likely no. I believe that the primary reason for this dismal reality is simply that most people never really give this notion much thought. It’s like so many things in life – the more actively and mindfully you pursue them, the more likely you are to acquire and achieve them.

Of course, there isn’t any kind of official measurement tool or actual test that can precisely tell you whether or not you’re living up to your potential. To a large degree, this is a self-judgment based on your own intimate knowledge of how much time, thought and effort that you actually put into maximizing your potential, reaching your goals and bettering your life.

So today I offer you the opportunity to participate in a short activity in order to help put this issue on the front burner and give you a sense of just how much of your potential you’re currently tapping into.With that in mind, please consider the following question: From 0% to 100%, with 0% meaning no effort at all and 100% meaning totally engaged every day, what number best represents how much effort you currently put into reaching your full potential?

Even though I don’t know you and obviously can’t hear you, I’m willing to bet that the number you chose wasn’t as high as you want it or need it to be. Unless you’re one of the precious few who manage to be good at self-motivation, you probably fall far short of where you need to be regarding pushing yourself to get things done and becoming all that you can be.

However, no matter where you place yourself regarding the percentage question above, there’s a gap between where you presently are and 100%. It’s that gap that I want to focus on today. For example, let’s say that you answer this percentage question with a relatively high number, such as 80%. My question to you then is this: What is it that prevents you from chipping away at that last 20%?

Or perhaps you’ve been asleep in recent years and scored yourself at 10% or 20%. In this case, even the most modest changes to your day could significantly improve your lot in life and move you closer to becoming that person you’re potentially capable of being.At the end of the day, effort and focus are to potential what water and sunlight are to vegetation. One nurtures, enhances and feeds the other. That’s called synergy, the combination of focus and effort that gives you something much greater than each can deliver individually. This reminds me of that old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial years ago where the man with the chocolate bar accidentally bumps into the man with the jar of peanut butter. Even though these two items are good individually, these two men discover that when combined, they have something that’s significantly better than what they have individually.

We all are born with human potential and, like the farmer and his crop, it’s up to us to nurture that potential to fruition.

Wishing You Great Health, Dr. John H. Sklare


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