Elephants Matter!

elephant-4Take a phrase from the culture, change a word or two, and wrap it in a metaphor and you have a blog post.  Yesterday while I was writing I felt my brain nudging me toward a special message that would capture your imagination and everyone else’s. Knowing that we all have unique needs and desires, I wondered if the contents of any message could have 100% appeal to a diverse audience. As I thought carefully about it, I determined for myself this message could in fact be relevant to virtually everyone. Whether you agree or not, I believe it is so rock solid and has such great potential to change lives that everyone will want it. What’s not to like about that?

You would expect that something of this value would already be universally known and part of everyone’s life. Yet I would wager that within five minutes of observation we could discover that what seems obvious and valuable for mankind is not a dominant part of our culture. And as long as we remain in our private world we will fail to see the magnitude of this truth. Why? Because this problem is about something that is missing. It is more challenging to see what is absent than what is present. Like elephants, we seldom think about them until there is one in the room. Even then, some people miss it!

So what is this elephant that is not in the room for most people, much of the time?  The elephant is this: “Think strategically every day and plan accordingly.”  It’s as simple as that.  Whenever the elephant leaves the room one of two things happens. Either we don’t act when we should or we act poorly because we didn’t think first. Both are potentially dangerous! That’s why everyone needs an elephant like mine.

By the way, my friend Michael Ehrler has a name for his elephant: Strategic Time-Out Pause (aka S.T.O.P.)

TRUE POTENTIAL

The subject of “potential” continues to turn up in conversations, perhaps because people are becoming increasingly aware of its importance and sensing an urgency about developing it for the sake of their families and careers.  So, let’s spend a few moments reflecting on potential as a concept and finish up with a set of challenge questions to assess our own potential and how we can expand it.

ASSESSING MY POTENTIAL

Most of us have a limited perception about our ultimate potential that is based on how we perceive our current potential.  This is self-limiting at two levels.  First, we tend to underestimate the starting point — what we are capable of doing today.  Second, if we underestimate the potential that is presently within us, how can we be expected to recognize the scope of our potential 10, 20, 40 or more years into the future?  So, instead of projecting exponential increases in capacity, we merely add safely to an already understated starting point and arrive at a mediocre estimate that avoids risk and creates an uninspiring target.  Here’s the first question.  How can we see the stars when we’re looking at the ground?

Graphic - PotentialTRUE POTENTIAL

People everywhere are coasting along on the road to nowhere.  Until we regularly challenge our thinking and test the limits of our skills we will never discover the unused potential that’s already available and we will fail to develop new potential that is also within reach.  What we believe is our true potential is but a speck of what is possible if we simply adopt an attitude, strategy, and habit of continuous growth.  Here’s the next question.  What path will you choose, a life of existence or a life of significance?

ELIMINATE THE TRAPS

Discovering how high we can rise in the future begins by recognizing and eliminating the traps we’ve set for ourselves.  One such trap is the habit of comparing ourselves with others.

“Always dream and shoot higher
than you know you can do.
Do not bother just to be better than
your contemporaries or predecessors.
Try to be better than yourself.”
— William Faulkner

Another potential-limiting behavior is ignoring the small things.  Sure, circumstances sometimes require us to skip over small details and move on and being a slave to perfection can also be a trap.  But, the habit of prematurely saying, “that’s good enough” is the most insidious habit because it steals growth opportunities.

What are your traps?  What’s keeping you from growing and realizing higher levels of your potential?

YOUR POTENTIAL MATTERS!

Think of discovering your potential as mining for gold.  It requires strategy, patience, persistence and hard work.  Would it be worth the effort if the results gave you access to life-changing levels of potential?

“You were born to win, but to be a winner,
you must plan to win, prepare to win,
and expect to win.”
— Zig Ziglar

Here are your additional challenge questions:  Where should I be looking for my gold?  What tools will I use?  What will I do today to start my mining expedition?  What opportunities are available to help me get started?  Who can help me stay on track?