The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle supported a definition of success that was based on arete, or excellence in all things, whether it be academics, athletics, or the arts. From Aristotle’s viewpoint, every individual can attain excellence because it is achieved by fulfilling your true potential. Reaching our full potential is hopefully something that we all strive for as human beings.
Frosty Westering taught a model that he called the Potential-Performance Gap. Your performance level is where you are currently at and your potential level is what you are capable of achieving. The Potential-Performance Gap then lies in that space between where we are right now and where we ultimately want to be. But how do we know what we are truly capable of?
The truth is we do not know what we are ultimately capable of achieving. And I’m afraid that many of us sell ourselves short when it comes to potential. We are afraid to fully put ourselves on the line because we are afraid we might fail, or what other people may say about us, or that we will not be able to handle the pressure.
So how do we close that gap?
According to motivational speaker Les Brown we need three things to close the gap: faith, patience, and consistent action.
It can be a very scary prospect that we do not actually know the ultimate limit of which we are capable. We must have faith. Not just merely faith in ourselves and what we can accomplish, but also faith that God will not lead us down a path that is too difficult. As well as faith that everything will come to us at the right time.
When I sit and reflect, I think that it is pretty arrogant of us that we think we know the who, what, when, where, and why of how events should unfold and play out in our lives. One of the very most important things that we can do in our lives to propel us even farther is to release the control that we think we have over events in our lives. Living by faith can be scary, but it should also be exciting because there is opportunity in every difficulty and there is a lesson to learn from every situation we encounter. One of these areas that we often want to have the most control over is the “when”.
Having patience has a lot to do with having an understanding of lag time. The work you put in today may not have an impact on the results right away...it could be days, weeks, months or years down the road before the training and skill development manifests itself in the form of verifiable results. This is hard to grasp and understand and is related to the idea that we can really only make 1% improvement each day (click HERE to read about working to get 1% better each day).
The results we see on television and the internet are often years in the making. The simplest little things done consistently over time can have a major impact. But, again, we are not in control of the “when”. We get in trouble when we start comparing our timeline to that of someone else and wondering why we are not able to achieve at the level someone else does. At this point, you may say that if I just need faith and patience then all I need to do is sit around and wait for God to drop my destiny in my lap.
As Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots when you look back into the past. You cannot connect the dots looking into the future. But if you don’t act, then there are no dots to connect. Even committing to the wrong thing is better than doing nothing because at least you learned from it. You don’t learn anything from doing nothing.
You must act, and you must act decisively, each and every day. Your action is based on your present understanding of the vision you have for your life, but ultimately knowing that someone who is a lot wiser than you may have a better plan in mind.
So have the faith to know that you are ultimately capable of much more than you think you are. Understand that there may be some lag time involved and that everything comes to you at the right time. And take consistent action to strive for arete in everything that you do.
Not only will you close the gap on your potential, but you will soar to new heights that you might have never dreamed of!
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