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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

6 Steps to Understanding Your Potential and Achieving More

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6 Steps to Understanding Your Potential and Achieving More

Whether you’re applying to a college, choosing a career path, or going through a midlife crisis, the big question is, “What are you capable of doing?” This world may have fed you with unrealistic expectations from the beginning, and it may be keeping you from understanding your potential.

We’re all told there’s some hidden talent deep within us that will be our saving grace one day. More often than not, though, you’re only wasting your time in finding your ‘talent’ instead of spending that energy to build your potential.

If you can understand your potential, success will be knocking at your doorstep. Let’s dig in to find out the not-so-hidden secret tips that will help you create your own empire of success!

What Is Personal Potential?

Before understanding your potential, you need to know first what personal potential really means. There’s a high chance that you have the wrong definition in mind, but that’s not your fault because it’s how most of us think of it.

People generally tell you that you’re naturally gifted with personal potential. Your true potential is supposed to be an activity that you can do amazingly with minimal effort. With this perspective, you’re always in search of a hobby that you think you’re good at. You keep looking for this unknown nature’s gift.

What you don’t know is that personal potential has more to do with your mental strength than your so-called gifts. It is anything that you wish to be. Hence, even if others say that your fashion sense is terrible all your life, you can still end up being a successful fashion icon.

What you need is willpower. With your courage and a firm intention, you can achieve whatever personal potential you want.

Potential and talent are not the type that you need to wait for before they come to you. They are qualities that you build within yourself with hard and smart work. There’s no magic wand that brings out your inner potential except your own will.[1]

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow another successful individual’s footsteps blindly. Yes, it’s always great to have some advice, but your potential and the path leading to it is probably way different.

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The key is to try understanding your potential instead of forcing something on yourself just because someone you know has managed to pull it off.

How to Find Your Potential

The personal potential is all about hard work and strategy. Here are six tips that will guide you on finding motivation and putting it to good use.

1. Identify Your Inner Voice

The first step towards success is to listen to yourself.[2] Bear in mind that you’re not looking for your potential here but only figuring out what you truly want in life.

Your potential is ultimately what you work for. Thus, it’s best to work for the things that you desire so that you enjoy the process.

Think of the things that you enjoy or would want to be good at. Do you aspire to be an artist, for instance? Would you love to be a theater actor, even though you’ve never acted on stage before?

Please make a list of your desired wishes and then downsize it realistically. It matters to keep your inner voice in mind while doing so. Don’t aim for things that may improve your image in society, bring you a lot of money, etc. Remember: your self-satisfaction needs to be a top priority.

Similarly, there’s a chance that you’re great at something but despise doing it. Say, people around you love your voice and are always ready to hear you sing. However, there’s a chance you hate it despite the elaborate appreciation. Things like this should also be noted down so you can recall that you want to stay away from them.

2. Make Conscious Efforts

Once you’ve planned a suitable final destination, it’s time to make an effort.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: your personal potential will not come waltzing into your life. You have to work hard to get to it.

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Understanding your potential requires conscious efforts in the right direction. It won’t just click one day randomly; you have to work to find the answers.

You may start experimenting now. You know that you want to either have a law firm or own a restaurant. These are two very different career choices, so take small steps in one direction and figure out if this is something you’re willing to put your energy and time into.

As an example, since you can’t decide between being a chef or becoming a lawyer, you try the former first. Even after six months of showing consistent effort, though, you keep overcooking your food. When you ask your friends to taste it, they hardly ever give you positive feedback. Despite following the same recipe every time, your dishes taste different every time.

You’ve put in six months in this craft and tried hard enough to make a decent meal, but there’s no sign of improvement. Of course, you need to take it a sign that cooking is most likely not the right choice for you.

You can then work towards your other option. Discuss the situation with experienced lawyers, get internships, research about it online, and find out whether you’ve got what it takes to build a successful law firm.

3. Define Your Goals

SMART goals play an essential role in your life, especially when you want to accomplish something.[3]

Defining goals will help you stay on track to understand your potential.

At this point, you’ve already figured out which route to take. It’s now time to take systematic steps.

Assuming you know the SMART goals and how to devise them, you need to add some additional steps to the process.

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With every goal, define your intention. Please take note of whatever you think you’re aiming for and the reason behind it. For example, your intent behind joining an SEO training workshop is perhaps to improve your readership so that you can accomplish your passion for running a world-famous blog one day.

Next, write down the value. What will this particular workshop do for you that you cannot gain from other similar sources? In the example above, the workshop may be facilitated by a person you’ve always been inspired by or is mainly for the niche that you prefer.

Lastly, think about the cost. Whatever input you have to give for achieving the value and fulfilling your intent, bring it to the table at this point. While you shouldn’t be working at a loss, you must be able to generate at least the same amount of money by implementing what you have learned, primarily if you’re paying $50 for a workshop.

4. Set Milestones

One mistake that a lot of people make in hopes of understanding their potential is aiming for the stars in the first go. They set their mind on the bigger picture and directly go for it.

That’s not how you get successful. As mentioned above, it’s the baby steps that take you to your destination. Yes, it may extend the timeframe of the entire journey, but it also increases the chances of having a practical outcome with minimal hurdles.

When you set milestones, try to break down the long-term process into smaller segments. So, if you’re passionate about developing an advertising agency, don’t put your focus on the final picture alone.

For your first milestone, therefore, you can enroll in a media school where you can learn all the basics of advertising. After that, you may work for an agency to familiarize yourself with their process. Then, get in touch with a local videographer to create an ad for a relative’s business.

Step by step, you pave the way to your big goal. You can work on the weekly or monthly milestones that may end up contributing to the bigger picture when you divide the workload.

5. Accept Failures

Bear in mind that you’re only getting started. Even though this is your passion, you can’t possibly be perfect at it immediately.

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Failures and inconveniences are part of every success story. It’s alright to have some unexpected issues here and there. Don’t let them demotivate you.

Failing does not mean that you have to shift your path. It only means you’re learning more, and that will eventually help you grow beyond limits.

6. Celebrate Your Successes

It is also vital to be very appreciative of yourself. It will keep your spirits high throughout the minor mishaps.

The secret is to celebrate the little successes. Every time you accomplish a milestone, pat yourself on the back.

Track your little achievements so that you can remember them every time you feel down and need encouragement.

Bottom Line

Understanding your potential and unleashing your inner voice isn’t that hard. It requires strong willpower, patience, and baby steps in the right direction.

Unfortunately, this fast-paced world has made life so complicated that the more straightforward things like finding your potential seem almost impossible. If you’re strong enough to keep things simple in this chaotic world, then you’re on the path to success!

More on How To Know Your Potential

Featured photo credit: Jeswin Thomas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Growurpotential: Talent Is The Product of Hard Work
[2] Harvard Business Review: Reaching Your Potential
[3] Mind Tools: SMART Goals

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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