We all have the potential to do more and be more. Potential is a word that is used a lot by people when trying to be optimistic or positive about a person or situation.
It happens when teachers tell parents that their child is showing some promise in the classroom. “Your boy is doing well… and he has so much potential Mr.Gough”. It immediately makes you feel good about the situation and has you believing that you’re doing a great job to guarantee your child’s future well-being.
“Potential” is also used frequently by entrepreneurs at the inception of a big idea when they’re passionately describing their big idea – usually to the bank manager or a parent who is likely to be funding it. It’s also a word used by seasoned business owners when describing a possible member they’re thinking of hiring, or a new service that they’re considering bringing into the business. Potential is a word that is used very commonly and often without any real understanding of its meaning – or its implications.
If you take a closer look at the word it means “potent”. It suggests that you are capable of doing something special. It’s suggesting that big things are possible. But just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s probable.
Right now, many business owners have the possibility of making more money or doing bigger things. That isn’t for debate. Yet very few ever go on to realize it. The problem with potential is anything that you achieve or produce tomorrow is 100% because of what is inside of you today.
And that’s where it goes wrong.
Many people cling to potential as though all they have to do is hang around long enough for the force to be fully realized. But that isn’t the case. What you are able to realize in terms of your potential to achieve is a direct result of the decisions and actions you choose to make today. You could say that the only problem with having potential is that you have to actually do something in order for it to be realized.
I’ve said it many times that if you want to look at the reason for the quality of your life today, look at the decisions you made in the past. And, if you want to know what the quality of life will look like in the future, look at the decisions you’re making today. Decisions lead to action, action leads to results, results lead to momentum and momentum multiplies achievement. At the heart of all that you achieve is momentum and at the soul is quality decision making.
Sadly, that isn’t something we’re good at. In fact, we’re hard wired not to be good at it. We have a million-year-old brain that does not know how to do much more than figure out the easiest ways to stay alive. It is not designed to make you happy or rich – only to keep you alive.
It has the potential to do both but only if you chose to read the instructions manual and upgrade a few bits of software that are decades out of date. Sadly, most don’t do this. There’s more people willing to learn from a so-called, self-styled genius at the bar on how to use the operating system of their iPad than are willing to learn how to update the software in their head. Harsh, but sadly very true.
The Role of Discernment in Achievement
If you look around you, what you will see at the epicentre of someone who is unable to fulfill their potential to achieve is someone who cannot make the decisions needed to get to where they want to be.
Whether they’re a perennial procrastinator, or they are spending their life choices in fear of getting a decision wrong, or they just can’t decide which they are because they’re frightened of the outcome it is this which you can point to as being one of the major factors for unfilled potential. Indecision is real and it’s a killer of achievement.
Now some people can make decisions – they just don’t make very good ones. They decide to do something without really and genuinely thinking about it and that takes them into a downward spiral of bad decisions that shunts growth and limits progress. Which brings me to the next major point in the pursuit of Extreme Achievement: discernment.
I believe that to achieve more, at the heart of it, there needs to be some serious consideration to the decisions you’re making.
Sometimes achieving more is as simple as avoiding setbacks. Dodging a bullet is as good as making ground. Often, it’s better because you didn’t even have to do much to do it. Think about it in terms of the amount of money available to you right now.
Whatever level it is, imagine if I could give you back all of the money you’ve spent in your life on things that you later wished you didn’t. How much better off financially would you be? You haven’t gone out and earned any more, but you’ve now got more money.
The dirty little secret, the one that is out there for all to know about getting rich, is that to achieve it you must only work out how to spend a little less than you make.
Spend less than you make for long enough and one sweet day you realize that you’ve got a nice little cushion to fall back on. Invest it wisely, you’ve likely got a very big cushion to sleep on.
Seriously, if you can avoid making bad purchase or investment decisions – or at least limit them – then you’re going to achieve having more money available to you. It’s not rocket science, but it is the key to getting rich.
And it is the same with achieving anything. The muscle called “discernment”, the ability to judge and be selective, needs to be strengthened so that you limit the chance that you will do something that involves walking down a path someone else said it was a good idea to walk down that later turned out not to be the case.
And when you think about it some more, that is a very common thing that can happen to you. That, if you’re not careful, means you can end up spending your whole life living someone else’s life.
It’s why most people privately admit to not really living their own quality of life and never feeling in control of it. Most people do live quiet lives of discontent because they’re governed by someone else’s rules and beliefs.
Say Nothing To Anyone …
Whether they don’t have the courage to say no to someone’s suggestion, or just don’t have the conscious awareness to reject it, ending up on the path that someone else has set up for you is common. It’s why the decision to be very careful about who you talk to about what you’re planning to do is one of the most important you can make with yourself.
As a general rule, if I am going to do something – I tell no one. Not even Natalie and especially not my close family. That is not until I am 100% convinced in my own head that it is the right decision for me.
Sounds counterintuitive – especially in a society where you’re taught to talk about everything the minute it’s on your mind. Fine. But talking doesn’t solve the problem.
Especially not if you’re talking to someone who isn’t REALLY listening or who really can’t understand the place you’re coming from with what you’re trying to achieve. Not to mention, has a completely different level of risk tolerance or money gauge.
There’s nothing more comical that watching an entrepreneur talk to their parents who’ve had a 9-5 job all their life about why they want to start and grow their own business.
It’s like a Trump fan and a Biden fan sitting at a table discussing immigration or taxes. Sure, they can talk about it – but how much progress will be actually made?
None, if any.
Both will just leave thinking that the other is even more right and the other more wrong than when they started. They talked – but no one really benefitted. They’ve both just more closed off than when they started.
When you’re told to talk to people it’s nearly always because, they say, it feels good to get it off your chest. It feels good to have shared it with someone.
It feels good to have explained to someone what you’re going through.
I get it.
But it doesn’t always mean you’re going to get the progress or outcome you wanted from doing it, just because you did. And surely that’s the goal, right? Talking wasn’t the outcome – progress was.
Talking to the RIGHT PERSON is the right thing to do and I believe that you’ve got to be able to have the foresight and judgement to pick that person or else you could find yourself feeling more negative – or just as bad – more optimistic about a situation than you would like.
It means you’ve got to be very good at living with your own thoughts. That takes discipline. It means you’ve got to be very good at living with big ideas that make you want to tell the world the minute you think them up – just because you’re feeling good and you think others will feel as good as you when they hear it.
It means you’ve got live a private and quiet life of calmness that defies how the majority of the world choose to live who, at the drop of a hat, feel the need to tell everyone on Facebook the minute an electrical impulse – a thought – pops into their head.
A quick reminder: there’s a difference between having a thought and actually thinking.
Thoughts run through your head all day every day.
They never stop.
Thinking is when you consciously consider what those thoughts mean and try to make sense of them. The latter takes time: more time than most ever allocate to the process required by thinking. Hence, the precession of bad decision after bad decision.
I keep many things to myself. I mull over and deliberate on many things from the direction of my life that I want to go in, right to the next hiring or firing decision I am going to make. It means that when I make it public, I am more certain in the commitment I have made that the decision needs.
I am not going to be easily swayed by the nay-sayers and doom-mongers who, when they hear my idea, tell my why they think it is a bad idea – just because it scares them and they think they couldn’t do it – or as is nearly always the case, they don’t have the PERSPECTIVE that I do about the decision.
Not to mention that most people are hearing you when you speak, but it doesn’t mean they’re actually listening to you. Just because they’re telling you what they would do doesn’t mean it is good advice – it just means they reacted with the first thing that popped into their head the minute they heard what you said.
Gratification over Commitment And Follow Through …
I believe this is why a lot of people fail at achieving what they want. They can’t and don’t have the ability to hold onto the idea for long enough to confirm to themselves – to commit – that it is really what they want to do. There’s no follow through because there’s no commitment.
Instead of the discomfort that often goes hand in hand with the commitment and follow through, they choose the rush of gratification that comes with talking about the idea and the potential for how it would make them feel to achieve it.
But, as I always say, a lot of people speak ambition, but very few do ambition.
Making the decision to hold onto your ideas and make a commitment to yourself first is one of the most important things you can train yourself to do. Followed closely by choosing (deciding) to discuss it with someone who is calm, balanced and level-headed meaning they’re able to see your idea for what it is – your idea – and not opining on it as if it were them who has to see it though.
A qualified second voice in the conversation rarely lets you down.
The latter being the No.1 benefit of being in our Mastermind program. It’s not “Sexy”, but it’s very important in achieving something bigger than you can ever do on your own.
Keeping things to yourself for a few extra days or weeks really is a beautiful way to live. Why don’t you try it for a while and see for yourself?
It allows you to really focus and consider all of the pros and cons of the thing you’re considering doing. It doesn’t mean anything else. It doesn’t mean that you’re being secretive or cutting anyone out – far from it.
And even if you are? So what.
It’s probably better that they don’t know.
Why burden them with something they’re not ready for just because society has made a rule saying that we all have to talk about it the minute we think about it. Keeping quiet is nothing to feel guilty about. Far from it. It’s how it should have always been.
It is simply another of life’s basic disciplines to master what the government elected to miss off the curriculum in favour of teaching us about why the polar ice caps melted in the year 1550. When you’re sure that you’re ready to make it public and talk it through with someone, it’s more likely that it will come to fruition.
After all, if it is a good idea, it will still be a good idea in two weeks. It’s very unlikely that anything is that good, that important and that time sensitive that whatever you’re thinking of doing must be done tomorrow.
The only reason you think it’s that important is because you’ve just thought it up. There’s nothing more important – or feels more important – than the thing you’re thinking of the moment that you’re thinking about it. It means if you wait a little while, let the thought go, sit back and watch and you’ll see its importance is diluted.
It doesn’t mean you ignore it for ever – write it down and go back to it in your own time and space when you’re more organized and ready to consider it properly. Resist the temptation to rush. There’s too much rushing going on. And it’s mostly happening because most people don’t trust themselves that they will actually see something through in the first place.
They want what they see in their head to become a reality today. The kid arrives in the world one day and the next they’re planning their graduation from college. There’s no need to sort out the nursery at home because that was done five years ago.
People get an idea, it makes them feel good and they want it to be materialized quickly as they don’t trust that they can do the whole nine yards needed to make it happen. They don’t trust themselves to see it through – so they rush it and inevitably they screw it up.
It’s why I believe the ultimate decision that will decide your level of achievement is the one over keeping commitments to yourself. How will you know you’ve done that? I know because I’ve made intentional, MEASURABLE progress towards achieving one or more meaningful goals I’ve set. That could be financial or fitness or even spiritual.