Understanding Human Potential

We may not be able to change what has happened to us thus far in life; our biological parents, nor other factors which have influenced us.  We can't control many of the things which happen to us in life.  We can however, control how we respond to what happens to us.  Personal skills, competencies, and worth can be improved regardless of age or position.  Far too often, failure is blamed on external circumstances: other people or things beyond our control.  But that is rarely the case.  There are just too many people who continue to overcome "circumstances".  An old adage still remains true: If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're probably right!

Ray Kroc was considered to be an aging high school dropout who failed at almost everything he ever did.  At age 52, he decided to try again, and developed what is now the international McDonald's empire.

Sam Walton opened his first store (a Ben Franklin variety store) in a small town of about 7,000 people.  It was losing money, and he bought it with $5,000 of his own money and $20,000 which he borrowed.  Within five years, he had reached his goal of turning a profit, only to be refused renewal on his lease and forced to sell.  His next venture was to open another store, Walton's Five and Dime.  This was the beginning of the greatest retail success story in history.  Sam Walton created the largest chain of discount stores in America.

There are many other examples of individuals who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve worldwide acclaim, of leaders who took their companies to positions of global dominance in the face of fierce competition.  There are even more examples of those who gave up threw in the towel and failed.  It's easy to blame others, or the environment, or the economy, or to rationalize "why" it wasn't their fault.  If circumstances are not the determining factor, what is?

Too many people hold themselves in lower self-esteem than the actual facts warrant.  Bad moments and past mistakes tend to make a deeper impression on our memories than our past successes.  Many people tend to think more often of where and how they've failed, rather than where and how they have succeeded.  Thus, many people tend to view themselves as less capable than they actually are.  Another problem is that many have never learned the importance of self-love.  The awkwardness with which some people accept compliments illustrates this fact.  They often allow minor imperfections to color their view of themselves, resulting in a low self-image.  To build a self-image on anything less than self-love, is to build on a hopelessly weak foundation.

With these thoughts in mind, begin to imagine the difference you could make in enhancing the self-image of others if you thought more frequently in terms of their strengths and implemented systems and recognition programs focused on their achievements, rather than on mistakes and failures.  How much easier would it be to implement a change process if everyone viewed themselves in a positive light?  What would happen to productivity if everyone thought more in terms of the unlimited potential of people rather than their limitations?  You could have a powerful influence on the growth and achievement of everyone with whom you work.

One of the things you can do is to focus on positive recognition.  Look for opportunities to recognize achievement and effort.  Make a point of encouraging improvements and viewing mistakes as a positive and necessary part of growth.  Often, when given a chance, an individual will surpass his or her own expectations and those of others.  When this occurs, it is important to recognize and praise such behavior.  Positive reinforcement is a powerful development tool.  Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.  Create an environment which will help others to get excited about growth and innovation.  Be an inspiration to others as they begin to step out of their comfort zones more often.  Lead by example, and create the pace that you want others to follow.  In addition to relying on published vision and value statements, act and behave in a manner consistent with them.  Walk the talk.

Leaders who have learned how to motivate themselves and create the circumstances and environment in which others are motivated, are those who reap the rewards of success.  How effective you become at developing and motivating yourself will determine how successful you will be at leading and motivating others to higher levels of achievement.