Food for Thought #3: Capitalizing on your potential (in 6 points)

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How often do you dream ? It happens a lot to me, especially daydreaming. I genuinely enjoy getting lost in my thoughts, letting my imagination taking over. Dreaming boldly lets your creativity thrive and opens a whole new world of opportunities. It allows you to draw any future you’d feel comfortable and happy with. But I believe the real power of dreams takes place when you actually achieve them. Why ? Because that’s when you realize what was once unconceivable can suddenly become your reality. It pushes you to be even more ambitious and achieve greater goals. Doors keep opening and nothing remains impossible…

Each and everyone of us can bring value to this world. The thing is, we tend to put people into boxes very quickly, making assumptions on their capabilities. By doing so, we prevent some of them to dream and be aware of what they can actually achieve. However, history has shown multiple times that individuals with genuine passion, commitment and a profound willingness to make a change can overcome the biggest challenges. No matter what they’re told, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from.

Here, I’d like to offer my perspective on how to reach your full potential and achieve your dreams.

1) Direction is more important than speed

I think the first step is going hard in trying to understand yourself and what you really want. Think about your own definition of success and happiness. Forget about what makes you look nice, focus on what makes you happy. Take the time to reflect on your values and stick to them. Take the opinion of others into consideration but don’t let it become what drives you. Do things with passion and seek for intrinsic motivation. From time to time, take a step back and ask yourself if what you’re doing makes sense. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to start over and do things differently.

2) Build your knowledge & skill set

What are your biggest strengths ? Try to identify what you (could) do well and capitalize on that. Build the knowledge and skills that will provide you with competitive advantages. Let your curiosity bring you to unsuspected places. Be intentional in keeping an open mind and stepping outside your comfort zone. Switch environments from time to time to gain perspective and benefit from the help of people who perceive things you can’t. How can you be passionate about something you’ve never been exposed to ? Try new things and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Never stop learning as you’ll become more capable everyday.

3) Choose the environment(s) you want to evolve in

Connect with like-minded individuals who spread positive vibes while challenging you in many ways. Be intentional in surrounding yourself with curious and ambitious people who will make you see the world differently. Join an environment where you feel like everyone around you is smarter, more capable and at the same time aligned with your values. Evolving in an aspirational environment will help you build healthy habits. That’s how you reach high standards, that’s how you grow. As Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. It can be for the better or for the worse, that’s your choice.

4) Leverage your communication skills

Imagine having designed the most wonderful project and not being able to sell it because you failed to communicate your message efficiently and accurately. What a waste. Going hard in developing your communication skills is essential to thrive in today’s world. See it as a process where people negotiate the perception they have towards each other. No matter how good your ideas, if you can’t manage to connect with your audience, you won’t get the expected result. First, when people talk, listen completely. Most people think about what they want to say and how they want to say it. Genuinely interest yourself in others, listen and try to understand their logic. Process the information then make up your mind, believe in your message and throw some passion. While making presentations, use the space, be confident, adapt your speech to the moment and be authentic. People feel that and consequently become more receptive. When writing emails, go straight to the point while being mindful of the ton. Prioritize clarity over complexity. Oh and don’t forget non-verbal communication. Even when you’re not speaking, you’re sharing a LOT of information whether it’s through facial expressions, posture, gesture, attitude, choice of clothes, lifestyle…

5) Just do it

To me, the worst thing in life is having regrets. Many of us have a ton of great ideas but very few actually take action. Why ? Well, the fear of failing, the perception of others, not willing to leave the comfort zone. The problem is that if you don’t try, if you don’t dare, you’ll never know. Don’t avoid vulnerability, seek for it. Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Keep your goals simple and realistic. Do some planning. It doesn’t have to be as fancy as most people think, it can be just a few words on a piece of paper/phone with a DEADLINE. Elon musk famously said “If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. If you give yourself 3h, it will take 3h. The same applies to your goals, ambition and plans.” People remember what you did, not what you said. Just do stuff and worst case scenario, you learn a lot. Learning by doing makes you more capable, more prepared for what’s coming next and helps you realize how much you can achieve.

6) Adopt a Growth mindset

A “growth mindset” is opposed to a “fixed mindset” which assumes our intelligence, capabilities and creativity are innate gifts. It’s a deterministic view of the world. On the other hand, a “growth mindset” believes talents can be developed and sees failures as a mean to grow. Carol Dweck, a Professor in Psychology at Stanford University, brilliantly explains in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success how living with a “growth mindset” can help you reach higher levels of achievement. She highlights the importance of being passionate, motivated and happy with your projects. She insists on embracing challenges rather than fearing them, persisting when faced with obstacles, seeking feedback to understand and improve, learning from others rather than envying them. You will fail a lot in your life, we all do. But choose your perception towards it. Failing means growing. Look at what you did wrong, re-adjust, make a plan and figure it out. Remember that people who are the most succesful are often the ones who had the most failures.

There you go, you’re all set. Try to implement some of these principles in your life and go one step at the time. Enjoy life and people around you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you’ll be just fine.

I’ve always been passionate about education and helping people reach their full potential. Writing on happiness, self-improvement, perspective.

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