Are You Scared To Realize Your Full Potential?
by Live Better
“The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.”
This is a scary question. Upon first glance, it seems straight forward. "No, of course I'm not!" But after review, we start to realize there are a lot more themes at play, like:
Fear of Failure
Risk vs. Reward
Responsibility isn't all it's cracked up to be - it bears a heavier burden for those who carry its added weight. Sometimes, it can be crushing.
Who is the first person to be let go for corporate failure? The CEO.
Who gets blamed for team losses? The captain.
The truth is that most anyone has "elite" potential for something, it's just hard to find. If it comes too late, we "regret" not practicing more or trying harder. If it comes early, we risk burning out over the long term. After all, in order to reach "elite" potential we must understand that the margin of improvement becomes thinner and thinner the better we get, which means discipline and commitment play a pivotal role in achieving greatness.
Truly, fear is what makes us freeze or drives us forward. It doesn't have to be negative; harnessing fear as the instructive voice in your head when attempting something "crazy" can be very helpful - just ask any extreme sports athlete. Fear is a guide, and a necessary component to decision making.
It can be negative, however, which is when it grips us down to our soul. Ever been caught on stage and forget your train of thought? Ever see someone suffer a fear of heights? You can see the size of the pit in their stomach...because it extends out through their fingertips and toes.
As you "stretch yourself to the limit", as Jim Rohn alluded to in the quote, the fear of failure becomes loud. When the stakes in the game are high, fear of failure can drive us to succeed at all costs or freeze us in the oncoming headlights.
It also "hurts" more because usually we become less objective about the outcome as we start to bear more of the responsibility. It's hard to be objective when it's your head they're calling for on ESPN or in the Wall Street Journal the next morning. We put so much effort into "winning" that the fear of failure becomes our biggest driver. It's obviously more scary to fail in front of more people.
More judgement, criticism (from the sidelines, particularly), and finger pointing.
Olympians provide an extreme example in sports. They spend four years preparing for one moment. The margin of improvement might be less than seconds (over four years...!), and yet they are willing to dedicate valuable chunks of their life to this single pursuit. It may earn them validation on the podium or heartbreak as they stand and watch...but they do it anyway.
The biggest thing that keeps us from realizing our full potential, however, is simply the fear of starting.
"But I've never done that before! How would I know where to start?"
"I've always wanted to start a business of my own, and I have a pretty good idea of what it would be, but I just don't have the time..."
Wrong. You don't make time. You don't free up headspace to understand the gravity and consequences of your decisions, including the ones you're making on a daily basis to stay in your current job. There is risk both ways (beginning something new or staying put), and a true, honest evaluation of both the pros and cons but also of what you truly want is necessary.
You're scared to make the commitment to success (and the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that comes along with it.)
Want to know how everyone in the world got to be good at what they do? They simply started...and then figured it out. In all likelihood, they are probably still figuring it out. We don't want to start because then we realize how much we don't know. We're a beginner again. Good.
If we're speaking to you right now, and you've been afraid to begin or afraid to fail, we will remind you of our favorite quote and leave you to think:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Bear the burden of your potential.
Best day ever.