One of the words we use a lot at The Kevin Eikenberry Group is potential. It is in book and newsletter titles, and it is on my mind every day. Implied in those titles is our belief that we all have significant potential. Here is what is at the bottom of this blog:
“Extraordinary potential exists in all of us. With the right environment, resources, skills and knowledge, ‘ordinary’ people can produce extraordinary results.” – Kevin Eikenberry
This truth is the foundation to why our company exists.
This isn’t an opinion, but a profound truth.
And as a result of this article, I hope you will take this truth more seriously for yourself and your team.
Potential – the word is both an adjective, a description of something:
1. possible, as opposed to actual
2. capable of being or becoming
And a noun – a thing in and of itself:
1. possibility; potentiality
2. a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.
(definitions from dictionary.com)
Potential is a beautiful thought and idea, but can you see the “but” inside these definitions? In many conversations I have with leaders, and in listening to media on all variety of topics, potential is all about the “but” – possible (but not being seen), latent (and may not be developed).
Do you see the “and” in these definitions too? Capable, possible (as opposed to impossible), an ability.
Hold that idea for just a bit, OK?
I used to work for Chevron. While I was there in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the United States was becoming more and more reliant on foreign sources of oil, my colleagues told me there was plenty of oil in the U.S. – we just needed to learn how to extract it, and in some cases just learn how to get it more economically. In other words, the potential was there, yet was untapped.
Today, whatever your personal feelings about fracking and other horizontal drilling technologies, it is indisputable that the oil resources are there. Until we figured out how to tap them, decided to tap them, and actually did it, it looked like we had become oil-poor – but that was a misconception based on surface observations.
Such it is with all of us.
On the surface it may look like you can’t do it.
It reminds me of the quotation from Orison Swett Marden, the original editor of Success Magazine, who wrote around 100 years ago:
“Deep within man dwell these slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action.”
Ignore the gender reference: the fact is clear. The potential exists. Whether it is “aroused” is up to the individual.
My petroleum engineering friends knew that we wouldn’t get the oil unless we studied, prepared, tested, and worked at it. Such it is with our potential as well. If we aren’t ready to take action (Marden’s final, important word), our potential will sit unused just like so many natural resources have and will.
But this isn’t just about us, is it?
We are leaders, encouragers, people who want to create more for our teams, organizations and communities. But . . .
On the surface you might not see how that person could sell, write or become a strategic thinker. And if you go with that assumption, with that belief, you are stuck with current results being your future reality.
So we must look deeper. We must find ways to help people see and recognize their own potential. And if we don’t take action that encourages, cajoles and helps them move towards that potential – to move past the possible to reality – they may not either.
And while we may not be able to help them see it – they may take no action and that potential remains latent, unused, untapped. But if we do our part, by working to see more than the surface, by making the effort to help others see it too, we improve the odds of a new result.
This deep truth and belief in this undiscovered and therefore unused potential informs the work that we do. We aren’t just delivering training, consulting, and coaching services, and building products for people to buy; we want to be a catalyst for your personal and professional growth, a source of the knowledge needed, and yes, sometimes the insistent impetuous urging you to get to work.
So I will continue to encourage you here, and in as many places as you allow me. To help you see your own potential and to give you a new set of glasses to help you see that potential in others.
And . . .
Then you must go to work.
We believe you can be extraordinary. We know that in the end you will make the decision whether to do the work necessary – put in the hours, the study and practice – to make that potential shine through. Our work is built on supplying you with ideas, tools, and resources for that journey and to provide the inspiration to encourage you to get started and keep going when it isn’t easy.
We will continue to do that because your potential is awesome – and if we can help you find and apply it, we have done our part to help you create a more meaningful life and make a bigger positive difference in the world.
That is our calling, and as a leader, I believe it is in part yours too. I hope you hear that calling, open your ears to hearing it, and get started living it.