Who's Minding Your Potential?

03/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

There is no passion to be found playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
Nelson Mandela

Fellow HuffPost blogger, author and life coach, James Lynch carries the title of Chief Potential Officer of his company, Do It Yourself Life Coaching. Knowing James, I feel quite certain his role of CPO carries over to his life as well.

What a brilliant idea! It got me to thinking, shouldn't we all be our own CPO? After all, who is in charge of minding and managing your potential if not you?

That most humans operate on roughly 10 percent of their potential is probably a bit of a myth. Who knows for sure how much untapped potential any one person has? Perhaps we run on even less than the legendary 10 percent! The point is, if you and I were honest with ourselves, most of us would acknowledge that we're capable of far more than we've settled for in the "developing our potential" department.

When I lead seminars, I often ask participants; "How many of you sense that you're capable of expressing far more passion in your life than you currently express?" All hands go up.

"How many sense you're capable of creating far more intimacy in your relationships that you're currently creating?" Again all hands go up.

"How many feel you're capable of being far more creative than you currently are?" All hands up.

"Making more money, being more productive at work, being more disciplined with your diet, taking better care of your health, etc.?" All hands up.

In the important areas of life, areas which people indicate have the greatest impact on their quality of life, most would confess they currently "settle" for far less than they say they want and know they're capable of creating. What is going on? Why do we settle for so much less than what's possible? Why do we resign or perhaps never even assume our roles as the CPO of our lives and live in self-imposed scarcity?

Independent of others and in concert with others,
your main task in life is to do what you can best do
and become what you can potentially be.

Eric Fromm

Perhaps the people of Haiti can offer an object lesson in this regard. We've all been stunned by the images and stories coming out of Haiti the past two weeks. The one dominating theme, beyond death and destruction, has been the indomitable spirit and courage of the Haitian people.

We see the impossible happening nearly every day. Just yesterday, 14 days after the quake, a 35 yr. old man was pulled from the rubble after being buried alive beneath layers of pulverized concrete. Talk about being capable of far more than one ever dreamed possible! People aren't "supposed" to be able to survive under these conditions; yet here they are, some with bodies broken but spirits unscathed, emerging in song, their voices singing praises of thanksgiving just to be alive.

We see footage of people standing in long lines, in 90-degree heat, waiting patiently for water and other supplies. There is no pushing, no shoving, no aggression. And yes, we've also seen footage of so called "looting." But can you really call it "looting" under such dire circumstances? That there has not been more of this kind of behavior is the real miracle.

In a sense, the tragedy in Haiti is offering the rest of the world an opportunity to realize our own potential for caring, compassion and courage. And we are stepping up to the plate. To date, donations to relief efforts have topped $1 billion from world governments alone, not counting individual donations from people like Leonard DiCaprio ($1M) and other celebrities. The Hope For Haiti tele-thon raised over $57 million in two hours and the album from this event is currently #1 on iTunes with all the money from sales going to benefit relief efforts.

No doubt in the days and weeks to come, the Haitians will continue to dig deep and find within their untapped potential for survival and starting over. And the rest of the world will get to discover it's potential for helping to rebuild this nation.

What does this have to do with you and me? Aside from the obvious connections each of us might feel about our own continued support after the rubble in Haiti has cleared, what about your own pile of rubble?

Consider that in your life, there is a pile of undifferentiated potential. It can be shaped and formed any way you choose or it can be left unexamined. You can allow it to remain undiscovered, and buried beneath it, your creative potential to discover the roads not yet taken. Or you can strike out from the beaten path and stretch yourself beyond what you currently think is possible and discover potential within yourself you never could have known was there, buried beneath the rubble of self-doubt and fear.

How many people are trapped in their everyday habits:
part numb, part frightened, part indifferent?
To have a better life, we must keep choosing how we're living.


Would you hire or fire yourself as a CPO? Here are some thoughts about how you might go about polishing your credentials in this area, taken from Robert K. Cooper's book: The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life.

1) Dare to be an original - Cooper advises "If everyone else is doing it, don't". Rosa Parks dared to stay seated on the bus when the custom was for blacks to give up their seats to whites and thus began the modern civil rights movement. Thomas Edison was pegged "unteachable" on his first day of kindergarten. By the time he died, he had over 6000 patents to his credit, including the electric light bulb. Do you follow the pack or do you dare to be your own leader?

2) Who are you when nobody else is looking? - What five words would you want others to come up when they think of you? These are your five core values. Write them down on a card and carry it with you. Every so often ask yourself, how well are you living your values? Are your choices and actions aligned with them? If not, time to reassess and make adjustments.

3) Honor the greatness in others- In the movie, Avatar, the Na'vi people greet one another with the phrase, "I see you".. How great is it to feel seen by another! Isn't this what we really want after all? This is true intimacy. Intimacy equals "into me see", hence "I see you" acknowledges the spirit behind being. The Hindu greeting is "Namaste" meaning: "The sacred in me honors the sacred in you". Somehow, "hello" doesn't convey this kind of deeper acknowledgment. How can you genuinely "see" and acknowledge the greatness of those around you?

4) Be quick without rushing - Sometimes less is more. Learn to keep your energy high, yet streamline your efforts. Instead of using tension and pressure to fuel your energy, cultivate calm energy, in which muscle tension is low accompanied by a deep state of physical stamina known as "flow". Spend time in the "flow" or "zone" states and you promote clear mindedness and physical vitality.

5) Align your life with your biggest dreams - Consider, which of your dreams are so big only your heart can hold them? How can you align your actions around your dreams? Keep asking yourself "why not?"

6) Develop the skin of a rhino and the soul of an angel - Cooper advises,

Don't take things personally; someone's always going to be mad at you and that's okay. Cut the cord and stand a bit apart and on your own two feet. Don't gossip about others or waste time trying to please them. Let your life speak. Angels don't worry about you. They believe in you. Angels don't try to fix everything or take away life's lessons. Angels take the high road.

7) Care as if everything depends on your caring - Live so that when children think of caring and compassion, they think of you.

The job of Chief Potential Officer of your life is one that only you can fill. Will you leave the position vacant or outsource it to someone you think is more capable? You might choose to work with a coach or a mentor to help get you started on the right foot and stay on track initially, but ultimately, the training wheels come off and it's up to you to live out to the edges of your life and tap into the undeveloped potential within.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this topic so please leave your comments below or visit my personal blog and website, Rx For The Soul. For personal contact, I can be reached at judith[at]judithrichdotcom. Want to share this article with others? Consider posting it on your FB page, Buzzing or Digging it. And you can Become A Fan and receive automatic updates when a new post is published.

Enjoy the journey and blessings on the path.

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