If you’re running the wrong race, you burn a lot of energy going nowhere that matters.

The sooner you figure out which race to run in your career, the faster you succeed.

We’re conditioned to equate success with our titles, the scale, and scope of our responsibilities, and of course, our paychecks.

Those are outcomes and a convenient way of keeping score in our lives and gauging our success versus those around us. Yet, they’re oddly hollow when all is said and done.

Power fades, organizations restructure, merge, or fail, and titles and responsibilities shift or disappear. And then you’re left staring at the person in the mirror, wondering what happened.

There’s a better race to run.

It’s the one where you are competing with yourself.

It’s the one where you chase your potential.

Everything about this race is different. It focuses on your inner-game and challenges you to develop discipline, strive for focus, and to learn by doing, sometimes failing, and doing again.

The race for your potential demands you build great habits and choose what to do and what not to do. Every day. Every minute.

Rethink Your Measures of Success

I’m reminded of my real race every time I go to the gym or peruse the leadership bookshelves in a bookstore.

I can evaluate my progress based on the conditioning of some remarkable athletes and the book output of my favorite leadership authors. Yet, while these examples inspire me, my focus is on my habits, progress, and output.

Am I reading more, writing more, eating better, lifting harder, running further faster, and genuinely growing smarter in all aspects of my career and life? Or, am I allowing internal resistance to distract me from the hard work in front of me?

Chasing Your Leadership Potential

For those who lead, the questions and measures are different.

  • Are you guiding, coaching, developing, and growing the people around you?
  • Are they better off for having worked with and for you?
  • Are they prospering when they leave your orbit?
  • Does your influence ripple through time for others?

Purpose Provides Lift

Perhaps the hardest part of finding the right race to run is uncovering your purpose. I almost cringe writing it, because “purpose” sounds so squishy, yet it is the single item that propels you forward as you chase your potential.

Most of us struggle to define our life’s purpose.

Give yourself a break and focus on defining your purpose for the current or next stage of your career and life. Wrap it in creating value for someone, some audience, or some cause.

If you’re stumped, define your purpose in the context of your role and stakeholders. How can you best help them? What problems can you solve for them as you execute on your purpose? How can you make their lives and careers better?

Don’t overthink your purpose. Don’t under-think it either.

Write it down. Play with it. And once you’ve reached a point where reading your purpose description makes your heart beat faster and gives you that feeling of excitement in your stomach, focus on how you will bring it to life.

Finding Purpose in Leading

If you’re leading and love the potential to help, lift, and create, your purpose isn’t hard to define or find. Of course, you have to filter purpose through the noise of the race for results. Your purpose is larger. Much larger. Remember, the numbers and project results are outcomes. Don’t conflate them with purpose.

Purpose Fuels the Chase for Potential

Once you articulate your purpose, you need to bring it to life. It provides the fuel for your race to your potential.

Ask and answer:

  • What do I have to do to turn words into actions?
  • Who do I need to engage and involve?
  • How will I start?
  • What do I have to stop doing?
  • What are the obstacles in my way? How will I go through, over, or around them?
  • How will I measure progress?
  • How will I define success?
  • Yes, you’re defining a strategy for yourself.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

A personal strategy focused on purpose is critical to you chasing your potential. It’s the right race. It’s the only race that matters. If you get this, I like your chances of success.

Art's Signature