The word “potential” has its roots in the Latin word “potentia,” meaning “power.”
I like to think of a person’s potential as the power within them. Potential is the power that drives us to do and be more, to go higher, and advance forward. Full potential is essentially “full power.”
The boiling point of water is 212 degrees. It’s the difference between water and steam…and steam will drive a locomotive. That is the power of full potential – it is reaching that one degree of difference.
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As a leader, are you operating at full power?
Is your team operating at full power?
If not, why not?
Human nature being what it is, I don’t know of anyone, including myself, who expresses full potential every day of their life. This is where habits come into play – habits help to harness the power and keep you on track. But there are times when you or your team (or both) get off track and lose power.
How does this happen?
External Factors – These are things that happen to us. This can be the result of other peoples’ actions and outside circumstances. Maybe you were about to hit a high water mark in your business, and a major vendor canceled their order. Or you were a strong contender for a promotion, and the decision makers chose the other candidate. Perhaps you had a comfortable nest egg built when the economy tanked. Or something happened in a relationship that is affecting other areas of your life. These are external factors that can affect your potential.
Internal Factors – Internal factors are those things that happen from the inside out. They are rooted in spiritual, physical, or mental patterns. Perhaps you have a revenue goal in your business. You come close every year, but fall just short of the goal…every single year. Or you know there is something you can and should do, but you don’t do it. You fear failure…or perhaps you fear success. You may lack the confidence to step up to the next level in leadership, or have team members who do.
Potential can be affected by your physical condition as well. I am often asked why I take time to ride a bike or work out at the gym. It is because physical strength powers every other area of my life – and it does the same for you.
How can you get to higher levels of power across your team?
With any coaching client, this is the starting point: “Where are you now?”
On a scale of 1-10, in each area of life (spiritual, physical, mental, vocational, financial, relational) they rate their current status.
Many find there are several areas that are weak. They also may notice how one area (for example, physical health, affects other areas). The gap between where they are and 10 on the scale is “potential.” It is room to gain power.
As a leader, this is a healthy exercise to do at least once a year. It is also a good idea to have your team members do this as well. While you may deal with them on a vocational level, those other areas have the potential to affect that one area…and they therefore have an effect on your entire team.
Simply put, this step is about asking, “Where do you want to go?”
The percentage of people who always write down their goals is estimated to be around 13-20%. Yet, the act of writing down goals and visualizing them gives you 1.2 to 1.4 times the chances of actually reaching them, according to studies.
So you identify the areas in need of power, and then you define what full power looks like. Once you have done that, you simply need to define the next step.
As a leader, think of your team. Where is there a lack of power? Then visualize where you want to go – the goals you want to achieve.
Now ask yourself and discuss with your team what it would take to get there.
- Do they need tools?
- Are their individual strengths applied in the right areas?
- Are they in a position that lets them use their best abilities?
- How are the team relationships?
Each of these has potential impact on power. And as you address each one, the power of your organization will increase.
I have learned the power of coaching in my own life. There are times when I struggle with one of these facets – maybe I know areas of my life lack the power they had, but I need help identifying those areas. There have been times where I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. Clarity can be hard to ascertain from an inside perspective. And, admittedly, there have been times when I knew what was causing a power drain, and I knew where I needed to go…but I just couldn’t bring myself to take action.
This is where accountability comes into play – it is the linchpin for gaining full power. Accountability to yourself, a system, or a coach – whatever works for you – but you need to be accountable in order to reach your full potential.
Are you and your team operating at 212 degrees – full power?
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.