Unlocking Your Potential


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous?  But honestly, who are you to not be so?”

~Marianne Willamson

This beautiful quote from Marianne Williamson has made the rounds. Although inspirational and with some truth, I’m not convinced that it is the full truth about what keeps leaders from reaching their full potential.

Most of the leaders I know and work with dream of making a big impact in their organizations and communities (or world!). Many (though not all) have a healthy dose of self confidence. Most have been successful, however they define it, but they know that they have more in them – a potential that is not yet realized.

So behind closed doors – what do I hear from those leaders about what prevents them from reaching their full potential? What can they do about it? My two cents worth:

They allow the unknown to get in the way of making progress: How silly, really. The future is always unknown. A leader who is moving forward is willing to accept that, define the future in their way, and be adaptable when it isn’t exactly what they thought it would be.

What you can do if the unknown is stopping you Consider what your definition of the impossible future looks like and ask yourself: What is the best possible future that I can imagine?

They refuse to accept responsibility for their part: Even the best of us get caught up in the blame game; “there’s nothing we can do, it’s all those other guys who are keeping me from becoming great”.  The possibilities are endless but when we are caught up in believing that our inability to move forward, we think all doors are closed.

What you can do if you are playing the blame game: Stop blaming others, turn that thought around and ask yourself: What can I do, regardless of what “they” are doing?

They are unable to break down the vision into actionable steps: Most leaders are big thinkers – a good thing. Yet often, they need some assistance in breaking down the vision of what it means to reach their full potential into smaller pieces that they can move forward on.

What you can do when taking action feels overwhelming:  Think about what you can do, no matter, how small, to get started and ask yourself: What is the first step I can take?

They give up too soon: Most often this comes from not recognizing that we are our own biggest barriers to success; but it can also be caused by external barriers that we don’t know how to deal with. One of my favorite quotes is, “everything looks like a failure in the middle”. It takes persistence and dedication to possibility (reaching your full potential) to get through the middle.

What you can do to keep going: Consider the barriers to your success and ask yourself: What is it within you or external to you that is keeping you from achieving your potential? What will it take for you to break through these barriers? Who can help? 

We are all powerful beyond imagination. Our potential is unbounded. What is the potential that you have yet to achieve? What’s stopping you?

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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