I laced up my running shoes at 6:10 am and it looked like it was going to rain. I got about 2.5 miles from my house and it got really dark. The clouds were rolling in fast and I knew I was in trouble. I turned around to start heading for home and I started running faster, keeping a constant eye on the clouds above. When I was about 1 mile from home, my phone started beeping with flash flood and severe weather warnings just as the thunder cracked and the lightening lit up the sky.
I started running even faster. I arrived at the gate to our community just when the sky opened up and it started to pour. I sprinted that last quarter mile as fast as I could to our house.
I use an app on my phone to track my mileage and pace and I was shocked when I looked at the display. I normally run a mile between 8 to 9 minutes on average, but I crushed that last mile in less than 7 minutes – something I didn’t even think was possible! I never thought I could physically do it, but racing against the storm challenged me and forced me to push myself harder than I normally would.
The good news is now I know I can do it. The bad news is my thoughts for the past 30 years that I am just an average runner have been holding me back. When you consider yourself to be an average runner, you get average results. I realized that morning that I actually have a lot more potential than I ever thought, even at age 44.
The truth is, each one of us has more potential than we think, not just physically, but in everything we do. Most of us don’t even come close to reaching our full potential. Most of us don’t give ourselves enough credit and most of us don’t even know what we are capable of. So how do we start to close that gap? How do we start to tap into some of that unrealized potential?
We need to do 2 things: 1 - Change our thoughts and 2 - Take action
1. CHANGE OUR THOUGHTS
As Buddha said, “What we think, we become.”Where we are 5 years from now, will be determined by what we think today. THINKING IS A CHOICE. We choose how we think. We don’t have a lot of control in life, but we can choose how we think.
If you change your thinking, you can change your results. How we think, puts limits on what we achieve. My running example proves that. I can either think of myself as an average runner (as I have most of my life) or I can think of myself as a competitive athlete (my goal for the future).
Our thoughts determine our beliefs. Positive thoughts create positive beliefs and emotions, and of course, negative thoughts create negative beliefs and emotions. Almost all of our self-limiting beliefs are due to the negative thoughts we have in our minds. Instead of focusing on a mistake we made, we need to focus on what we have done well. Is your glass half full or half empty?
Start right now. List all of your strengths that you can think of. What do you do well? When do other people come to you for advice? What would other people say you are good at? Spend at least 10-15 minutes writing down your successes and what you are good at. List anything else positive that you can think of. If anything negative creeps into your mind, squash it right away! You can reflect on mistakes later. Right now, just focus on all of the good things! We are trying to change our thought patterns so keep it positive.
2. TAKE ACTION
Of course, we can’t just think about it, we need to take action. Pick 5 strengths that you listed above and think about how you can act on those strengths. How can you incorporate those 5 strengths into your daily life to help you reach your potential?
If you said you are disciplined, how can it help you maximize your potential? Perhaps you can use discipline to exercise 5 times per week or you can use discipline to write a blog article every week.
If you said you are outgoing and highly social, perhaps you can use your social skills to add value to other people or you can use your social skills to work with disadvantaged youth.
Now take action!! We can have 100 strengths and choose to think positively about ourselves daily, but if we don’t take action, we will never reach our potential. Do something every single day to take a step forward in the direction toward your goals. Do at least one thing every day that scares you or something you wouldn’t normally do. Leverage those strengths! One small action every day, even if it seems insignificant, creates new habits and helps us move out of our comfort zones to reach out potential.
We all have unlimited potential. Your past does not define your future – you do. Robin Sharma stated, “One of the saddest things in life is to get to the end and look back in regret, knowing that you could have been, done, and had so much more.” Our potential is our gift – it is the gift we were given. Not striving to tap into as much of that potential as possible would be an incredible waste of talent and our gift. And remember, your talent could be an incredible gift for the rest of the world.
Darleen is a Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Behavior Change Specialist. She has been in the healthcare industry for over 20 years.