It’s an interesting phenomenon that we can see the potential in others more clearly than they can see in themselves. And the same goes with how difficult it is to see our own potential and a clear path to our goals and ambitions.
I’ve learned that I’m not going to change this, even though it doesn’t make any sense to my rational brain. But I trust that the Universe has a reason for making it easier to see the potential in others than it is to see it in ourselves.
Therefore the only option is to embrace the challenge and succeed anyway!
Here is what I’m learning about how people are achieving greater levels of success and reaching a higher level of potential.
Set a long term plan
A wise man and mentor referred me to an inspiring and famous quote which says that we tend to overestimate what we can do in one year but underestimate what we can accomplish in 5, 10 or 20 years. I’ll provide the Bill Gates quote since he’s a tech icon I admire.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
For the first time I created a 5 year plan versus my typical “one year resolution” list of 47 items that I wanted to accomplish in 12 months. It’s already made a huge difference in the way I approach life and has reduced my stress level tremendously. Last year at this time I would have been freaking out and I would be telling myself — “it’s practically February – one month has almost vanished before my eyes!! — I am no where near accomplishing my long list of goals.” For more reading on this check out Founderpedia post.
But .. because I have a five-year plan, I’m not freaking out at all. I’ve already accomplished a few things and if I take the long view, then I’m well on my way and feel confident that success is in my future. Which leads me to …
Celebrate the small wins
We achieve lots of things on a daily basis, but because we’re so focused on accomplishing something big, we erroneously skip over the confidence boost and validation by not celebrating our achievements. Each win doesn’t require a grand stand and parade, but even a short discussion with yourself saying “I did that!” or “What a wonderful accomplishment towards my bigger goal” will increase your mood and give you energy as you tackle the rest of the day, year, decade.
Give. And then give more
I’m consistently receiving signs these days that in order to increase our happiness and to help us be successful, we need to give. And it’s critical to give when we feel down and least feel like we can, or have, the capacity to give.
Giving doesn’t have to be monetary. It could be as simple as a compliment. And even if you’re a giver … you will be surprised how giving more will unlock the inspiration needed to tackle what seems like an insurmountable task.
Research reported in Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take” (which I highly recommend) shows that giving in chunks (ie: focused giving in a short period of time) versus giving in sprinkles (ie: one small act a day for a week), provides greater satisfaction and a feeling of happiness. And when we are happy, we know that we tend to be more motivated and therefore have a greater chance of working towards our goals and true potential.
Happiness isn’t always derived from the work we do or even the goals we’re trying to accomplish. Often finding happiness elsewhere (in an activity we enjoy; spending time with people that inspire us; volunteering with something you care about) can provide you with the happiness that will give you the motivation and push you to dig deeper and reach higher so you can truly unlock your potential.
… and on a personal note, just writing this blog today is a huge win for me that I’m going to celebrate with a delicious Chai Latte and a mini “woot woot” as I hit “publish”. 🙂
This post hits home. You are so right in your observation of not being able to see our own potential as easily as seeing someone else’s. My way of putting it into words is, “the internal critic is always the hardest.” I have learned that I am WAY to hard on myself. And, with that, comes a serious lack of acknowledgement of my successes (both minor and major). It is SO important to acknowledge forward progress. I have you, in part, to thank for that realization. And, in the spirit of your “woot woot” club, I have accomplished almost all of my goals for January (Still 5 days left!). This year has started off for me with some palpable momentum. I look forward to February to keep the ball rolling, err, advancing the puck. #unlimitedpotential.