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“Don’t cheat the world of your contribution. Give it what you got.” Steven Pressfield.
Use what you Got
Have you ever done something you thought or believed you couldn’t do? Maybe you went back to school after years of being out and got a degree or certification. It could have been a task that seemed beyond your reach and yet you were able to accomplish it. Maybe it was a job that you applied for even though you thought it was beyond you but you got the job and performed it well. Or, you had a physical fitness goal that seemed impossible to reach but it happened. It seemed beyond your capacity and yet you were able to get it done. What happened to your confidence and mental condition?
About a week and a half ago, our refrigerator broke down. After consulting a friend who knows about refrigeration, we discovered one of the parts needed replacement. I am not a handyman. But after finding out how much a professional would charge to replace it, I made the attempt. I attacked the problem. Through a team effort with my wife, we replaced the broken part. First, we were shocked then we cheered and hugged when we saw the part was actually working. With confidence soaring through the roof, I asked, “What else is broken in this house?”
In hindsight, we can all look back and see how we would have remained stuck if we chose to nail our lives to our excuses and all the reasons why we couldn’t do it. Here is my shortlist:
- I would still weigh 210 pounds as I did in 2015 (currently I am holding at 174lbs)
- I would never have run a half marathon
- I would never have gone back to school and earned my master’s degree
- I would have never written a book
- I would not be writing this blog
- I would never have learned from failure
Do you have a list? I believe the potential placed in us is drawn to what is possible. This is why goal accomplishment is one of the central components of a successful life. Also, think about all that has come through the pipelines of invention and innovation. The phone in your hand is a perfect example of this. The banking and retail industries have undergone drastic changes because of innovation. Now you can shop from the convenience of your home and deposit a check without going to the bank. And currently, there is a growing interest in shortening human travel around the world through the introduction of space flight. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk presented such a scenario in 2017.
Through potential in action, we use what we have to bring about something that previously did not exist. Sometimes potential exists in the abstract form of an idea, a picture or a puzzle in our imagination. But when action is applied, the outcome is productivity and progress, which I believe are the two things we all want to see in our lives. Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “It’s not what you have but what you use that makes a difference.” I couldn’t agree more.
I wrote in an earlier post of this current blog series that if you are alive you have potential. But what keeps our potential, although potent, in a dormant state? What you believe is a keystone when it comes to turning potential into action.
What do you believe?
In 2008, Barack Obama rode the “Yes We Can” wave all the way to the White House, becoming the first black president of the United States. In a time when confidence was waning amidst an economic crisis and belief was low in the hearts of Americans, President Obama gave what everyone needed; hope. His slogan was a reminder of the power of believing and how it can propel you further in life.
Belief systems are at the core of humanity. Our belief systems are expressed in our thoughts, words, and actions. We all need something to believe in, whether we know it or not. We thrive and flourish where positive belief systems are present. And when a person strongly believes in something they will give all they have toward that cause. I believe in the value of family. This is why I make sure I don’t give my best elsewhere and give my family my leftovers in terms of time, energy, and attention.
Active or Stagnant
What you believe will either push you to activate your potential or keep it stagnant. The past is a major culprit in keeping our potential stagnant. We tend to reference what was done to determine what is possible. Progress will always be beyond our reach when our thinking is only molded by our past. We break out of the rut of our past by seizing the moments in the present that challenge our capacity to think and act in new ways. This pushes us to a brighter future.
Our “sacred cows” is another. It’s the “this is just the way I am” or “this is the way we have always done it” response we give when we are challenged to be or do better. These fixed negative habits and attitudes may very well be the ones keeping our potential locked up. Most people have become the wardens of their imprisoned potential. We think that by letting go of our fixed habits we are losing a part of ourselves. But in truth, it is only by letting go that we can truly become who we were always meant to be. What are you holding onto that is keeping your potential in a dormant state?
And lastly is a quitting spirit. Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors who failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” We must develop an attitude of stick-to-itiveness through consistency and discipline if our potential is to be actualized.
If you believe that you have God-given potential, then boldly ride on this wave of thought, “Yes, I can realize my potential by putting it to action every day.” As you align your words and actions to what you believe confidence will begin to rise. And as Pastor and author Craig Groeschel says, “Boldness is behavior born out of belief.”
Final thought: The unique potential within each one of us carries the purpose of making an impact and difference to the people in our sphere of influence and the world at large. With this outlook, we will put our potential into action and live out this observation by Thomas Edison, “If we all did the things we were capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
Keep on Keeping on!
Hello. Reading the list you provide of the ‘I woulds’ made me reflect on the things that I wouldn’t have done if I never applied my potential in the last year. In fact the whole post really made me reflect on a lot applying potential. I completely see how belief systems affect how I apply my potential. This post was very insightful. Thank you.