Leadership Caffeine: In Pursuit of Your Potential

A Cup of Leadership CaffeineYou’re good, but do you have it in you to be great?

I work with a lot of good professionals. These are smart people, all technically adept at their jobs and committed to working hard for their organizations.

Only a few of these good individuals push themselves to become great.

These are the driven ones. Driven to learn, driven to push themselves, comfortable with trying and failing and well aware that there is a pearl of wisdom underneath a nugget of gold in every situation.  They are looking and digging and diving for those pearls and nuggets.

They’re in competition, but it’s not versus an external adversary. They are in competition with themselves. With resistance. With the temptation to take the easy route and be “just good enough.”

I love working with these leaders. They are challenging and they are open to challenge. They’ve long since recognized the need to reflect and to gain feedback on their performance at every opportunity.  They are relentless in pursuit of their own improvement.

I also recognize that not everyone is driven. That’s OK. Just make certain if you fit into this category to brush up on your follower skills. At least strive to be a great follower.

For those that sense that there’s more in you…that you want to leave it all out there on the field, perhaps you’ll see yourself here, or, perhaps something here will kindle your flames of self-improvement.

6 Signs that You Are Driven to Pursue Your Potential:

1. You’re comfortable revisiting the basics of your profession. If it’s leadership, you understand the need to revisit the purpose of your role and to continually strive to improve as a coach, as a mentor, a motivator and as a decision-maker.

2. You work hard to manage your own brand. While this sounds self-centered, it’s actually socially intelligent. You recognize that your professional value proposition…the famous “Brand Called You” is all that you have and you work hard to see if the value proposition in your mind matches what others see in you.

3. You are genuinely interested in what others have to say. This natural tendency to seek the other person’s point of view is more of that social intelligence and part of what makes you an authentic professional.

4. You are genuine. Your internal values and principles match your external persona. You’re in balance. A quote that I read somewhere offered this as “you believe what you say and you say what you believe.”

5. You view power as the means to right kind of more. Not more money or fame, but rather the ability to produce more, to contribute more, to create more, to help more.

6. You recognize that success comes in many forms, but the best form is that internal sense of “I gave my best, there was nothing more.”  Of course, you always wonder whether there was just a little bit more in you to give.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

The life of a driven leader or a driven professional is filled with struggle and joy. Ironically, the joy is truly in the struggle. You just don’t figure that out until much later.

Comments

  1. I think this makes a lot of good points. I have had a lot of good bosses but very few who are wiling to learn from there mistakes. People and especially people in a power position are not willing to admit when they mess up then are unable to learn and grow from those mistakes.

  2. Great post,
    I was always taught “leaders are readers”…always trying to “sharpen the saw”.

    You may enjoy reading the football hall of fame speeches from 2010 induction ceremonies as they too discuss how to be a champion, and I recently blogged about it as I found it compelling on what it takes to be a champion.

    Not everyone is willing to make the sacrifices to be great, so they should not become frustrated when it “just does not happen”.

    Mark Allen Roberts

  3. Thank you for the post, Art. I agree that it is desirable to have leaders that believe in their own true potential. Nonetheless, it is nice to have reminders, such as this list, for when life tries to stray us from the path to success that we create for ourselves. The most profound trait is in knowing that it is up to individual to clear their own path. It is when the only person that they are driven by is his/herself to stay the course, because they have the desire and strive for their own development. For a leader to be great, the biggest motivation is to prove that you will not let yourself down. If one has the mindset that their goals are high and they continuously give it their utmost best, then it is a positive step in the development in their true potential.

  4. Your point 5 really hit me. Good reality check, my company hires me to make a difference and as a result I get paid more money.

  5. Phillip Turner says:

    Very interesting points, “only a few of these good individuals push themselves to become great” brings a fresh reminder that in order to succeed you cant be afraid of failure because at the end of the day you have to look back at the situation and say you left all you had on the table and gave all that you had, “there was nothing left.” I am printing this list of 6 off for our managers at work to review, it is smart to review ourselves in the workplace in order to come up with new ideas. Great article!!!

    Phil

  6. This list is at least thought provoking. It seems to be a matter of self-awareness. Social science, in an admittedly fatalistic view, has identified a phenomenon commonly known as the Peter Principle. This is not merely a theory, it is a principle. While it is a treatment of limitations, it effectively means that in evolving systems, individuals tend to develop up to the LIMIT of their own adaptive competence, and are, then, inherently limited.
    So the answer to the question your synopsis raises for everyone is, “Yes!,” everyone is driven to live up to their respective potential.
    Professional sloths are rising to their potential, just as the proverbial numbskull, likewise, will rise only to their own level of incompetence. The high-flying achiever will attain their full potential, just as the Average Joe, will contribute within their evolving life experience, to the fullest extent they are able, as a part of the great bell curve of society.
    It almost goes without saying that 50 percent of humanity has a lower than average IQ. That population will achieve their full potential, which may be as much or more of an innovation as someone who is in the upper percentiles. The 50 percent of humanity with above average IQ’s may not be cognizant of the natural intelligence assets they may enjoy, having such a marginal advantage, limits their own potential. The subset of humanity that does recognizes their own capacity, as Art Petty suggests, may use it to cut the grass in service to landscape residential properties or tend the grounds for a world class golfcourse. To the extent that they are satisfied in a comprehensive way in their own lives, everyone will rise to their own level of incompetence, or put another way, achieve their potential. Perhaps a question might be posed to leaders, “How can individuals recognize they are optimizing pursuit of their own potential in the present, for the future, based on past experiences and knowledge?,” whether they have material control over increasing the level of achievement for the future or not. Teams will falter due to the weakest link. No one is in complete control of their own highest level of achievement. Whole books and blogs are written on the topic of how motivation can be stimulated. Turn to some of those for additional insights, I’d suggest, as well as looking inside yourself, and get reflective, introspective, and prospective for perspective.

  7. David Moeller says:

    I think many of the points are valid, but am not sure I agree with #6. It seems oriented towards introverts versus extroverts who find confirmation and draw energy from others. For me, internal satisfaction is not enough. If I truly gave my best and no one noticed, it probably wasn’t my best or even close to it.

  8. Thanks all for your comments and opinions! -Art

  9. Legacy is the scent in the air that reminds people of you when you’re gone.

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