7 Enemies to Reaching your Potential

Reach Your Potential Reach your Goals

Happy New Year!

Why do great people change the world? Why do some people succeed and others just float along in life. Why are some people rich and most people not? I don’t know. BUT, most people who make an impact in this world have a grasp on their enemies and their obstacles. Specifically those which held them back from reaching their potential. Here is a list of enemies that you will want to eliminate this year. You are an amazing person with incredible potential. You have the potential to become great. It is already in you. So get ahold of yourself, buckle down, and make this the best year of your life!

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1. Nearsightedness

If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, your dreams aren’t big enough.

Dream Big

When we don’t have the ability to see afar off, we rarely set goals that will help us reach our potential. We have a lack of vision. And, like the proverb says:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” 1

Dream big. Look further into the future. Don’t go on doing what you have always done. Create disruption in your life. Be your own advocate and stand up for your highest self. Don’t settle for anything less than your highest self and don’t let the everyday tasks keep you from looking forward to the future. Dream, because either way, you will always gravitate toward that which you secretly most love. 2

In 1918, Ernest Rutherford, missed a meeting of experts advising the British government on anti-submarine warfare. When criticized for missing the meeting, he replied, “I had been engaged in experiments which suggest that the atom can be artificially disintegrated. If it is true, it is of far greater importance than a war.” 3

Anyone who knows the contributions of Mr. Rutherford to the development of atomic physics knows that his experiments were much more important than his presence at that meeting, or, like he said, than a war. Don’t let a meeting or a job or a routine get in the way of your potential. Your potential is bigger than meetings and committees.

You are bigger than that.

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atom bomb

photo credit Wired Magazine

2. Ignorance

If you don’t know how to reach your potential, you won’t. You’ll just drop into the avoidances you have created for yourself (see #3) and live there. For example, if you want to be a time-lapse astrophotographer, go learn everything you can about it! How do DSLR cameras work? What lens is best for night shooting? How far do you have to get from city lights to capture the light of the stars? Do you have to use a tripod? What F-stop is best if the moon is out? How many exposures at what interval make the best frame rate? Who are the experts? Can I learn from them? Do they offer classes? 4

When it comes to your potential and your dreams, ignorance holds you back. It can easily become an excuse. Knowledge is power to accomplish your dreams. When you dream big you also have to do your homework, but it’s worth it. YOU are worth it.

Invest in knowledge and truth and you’ll thank yourself because you’ll become your highest self.

God has all knowledge. And He has promised that we can become like Him. He does not want ignorant children. He desires for us to be endowed with the same knowledge that HE has. He has promised us this is possible. 5  This is your true potential.

3. Avoidance

checking facebook

Too often our potential isn’t realized because it requires hard work to get there. We avoid doing the hard stuff. In our world of instant gratification, there are so many ways to replace one hard thing that could help us realize our true potential (true gratification that lasts) with ten easy things that get us instant gratification (that fades after a moment). They provide satisfaction so easily that we can actually become addicted to avoidances. Here are some examples of avoidances:

  • Checking facebook, twitter, instagram, Google+, etc. (Yay! 11 red notifications!)
  • Cleaning out our email inbox (YES! it’s clean! —for the next 3 minutes—)
  • Going running (hooray for endorphins)
  • Watching a YouTube Video (Kid History? Piano Guys?)
  • Vacuuming (Ooooh, I love seeing progress on my carpet)
  • Snacking (Hmm…Cereal? Granola bars? Cookies? Spinach puffs?)
  • Apps (Nerts! Words with Friends! Angry Birds! Fruit Ninja)
  • Video Games (Halo II? W.O.W.? Minecraft? Mario Cart?)

Case in point: 2013’s YouTube stats 6:

  • 6 Billion hours of video was watched per month
  • That means 1037 years was watched per day
  • and 43 years per hour
  • and almost 9 months per minute (8 months and 18 days)
  • and 4.3 days per second

That is nuts. What if the world used those 72 billion hours to create something during 2013? What could the world create in 72 billion hours? Well, we could have built 10,285 Empire State Buildings (7 million working hours) 18 Great Pyramids of Egypt (4 billion working hours). 7 I’m sure it’s debatable, but seriously, that blows my mind.

Anytime we come up against something that seems hard, what do we almost always do? We jump back to what we know will give us satisfaction and validation.

So what should we do? Delay gratification. What is the number one characteristic of people who have reached their potential? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it is their ability ability to delay gratification – to stick to the harder task and develop self-mastery until they free themselves from avoidances.

Get off YouTube and go build the Empire State Building! You know what I mean.

4. Approval

Emerson Quote - Leave a Trail

The fastest way to destroy your ideas for reaching your potential is to ask for permission. If J.K. Rowling stopped when her idea was turned down by multiple publishers, we wouldn’t know what “expecto patronum” means. William Wilberforce never would have taken down the slave trade in Great Britain seeking the approval of others. Instead of becoming an artist, Michelangelo would have become a businessman at the advice of his father and we would never have seen the matchless Pieta or the incredible paintings in the Sistine Chapel. King Agrippa may have actually become a Christian. King Noah may not have executed Abinadi. Walt Disney may have just given up after being turned down by 300 investors and Disney World may have drifted into the void of ideas that never happen.

Don’t seek approval of others. Stay true to the vision within you. Don’t ask others for their approval when it comes to your potential. Follow Emerson’s wisdom:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Be this guy:

Be this guy

5. Fear

Get out of your Comfort Zone

Too many dreams are aborted by fear before they are even born. Fran really was right when she said:

“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” 8

The fastest way to dry up the roots of your potential is to allow fear to dominate your thinking. What you must remember is that fear comes from believing something that is not true. Anytime you have a fear, you must increase your knowledge of truth and determine what you are allowing yourself to believe that is NOT true. Every major success, every major hero, has had to overcome fear. And ANYONE can overcome fear with TRUTH.

So take a big dose of truth, put on your Spanish red dress or your sparkly man-vest and get out on the dance floor and do the Paso Doble!

paso doble

From the best scene in Strictly Ballroom.

6. Apathy

meh

the meh button

Apathy is the silent killer of potential. It creeps in and infects all who fall victim. Don’t let apathy kill your potential. Do something. The lukewarm will be spewed. If you find yourself drifting into apathy, go look at yourself in the mirror and smile for 60 seconds while looking at yourself. Then DO something! Move forward. Destroy apathy.

 

Albert Einstein was right when he said:

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” 9

Don’t let your world be destroyed by apathy. Go smile the frown away and remember who you are.

7. Lack of Commitment

Burn Your Ships

Just try to remember Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. When he crossed over with his army, there was no turning back. It was win or die. The die was cast. There was no returning. Hernán Cortés did the same. He was a leader of a small group of Spanish Conquistadores (about 600) who when they arrived to the shores of the Aztec empire, they burned their ships, to either conquer or die.

Burn your ships. 

And then hang this on your wall:

“Alea Iacta Est”

It means “The die is Cast” or in other words, there is no turning back. It is what Julius Caesar said after crossing the Rubicon.

Commit to your highest self. Commit to your dreams. Commit to your potential. Then God will move too. Until you commit and start, there will be so many things that will never happen, that would have if you would have just begun. I will end with this quote by Goethe:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” 10

Begin it now. Reach your potential. You were born for glory. Commit to reaching your potential.

Make it happen this year.

 

  1. Proverbs 29:18
  2. James Allen – from Visions and Ideals. The essay from his classic “As a Man Thinketh”
  3. George F. Will, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Other Sobering Thoughts (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), p. 228
  4. Personally I love time-lapse photography and have done a bit myself. This was one of my dreams and I have been learning this stuff.
  5. See Alma 12:9-10; D&C 76:5-10
  6. Click here for stats
  7. Please just search these on Google, you’ll find it I promise.
  8. See the movie: Strictly Ballroom, 1992. Actually don’t see it. haha. Just take my word for it. Other than this one quote, it is super weird and ridiculous. Just sayin.
  9. See the wiki quote page.
  10. If you’re the one reading this that says “Goethe didn’t say this,” please, tell me who did and give me your reference. I wish I had a good one. But this is true no matter who said it. Period.

avatar Andy Proctor (42 Posts)

Andy is the creator of T​he Returned Missionary (this blog)​, encouraging the tens of thousands of LDS missionaries who come home every year to continue to be productive, hardworking, faithful, and happy long after their full-time mission has ended. His goal with this blog is to help people know how they can live the gospel while living their dreams. He just launched his first book for RMs, called ​Live Your Mission: 21 Powerful Principles to Discover Your Life Mission after Your Mission, which is the first book in the L​ive My Gospel​ book series. He also owns and manages the LDSmissionaries.com blog. He is a regular contributor to Meridian Magazine and has been featured on the Mormon.org blog as well as LDS Living and Deseret News.


6 Comments

  1. Fantastic!
    Thank you so much for the effort of putting all these together, it is truly inspiring for this new year 🙂
    I’ll sure be sharing this article around.

    Iaorana I te matahi api e Maururu! (Happy new year and thank you!)

  2. Andy, I’ve never met you, but I adore you. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with the world. Your posts are very timely and inspiring.

  3. Goodreads attributes so-called Goethe quote to William H. Murray.

  4. Andy,

    LOVE this post. Great reminder for me right now. I think it would be interesting to write a post that addresses #3 in the context of our mobile devices. I know a lot has been said, but maybe some practical suggests for avoiding distractions and putting our focus on our dreams and goals. Maybe I’ll write it and send it to you. 😉

    – Grant

  5. Andy,

    LOVE this post. Great reminder for me right now. I think it would be interesting to write a post that addresses #3 in the context of our mobile devices. I know a lot has been said, but maybe some practical suggests for avoiding distractions and putting our focus on our dreams and goals. Maybe I’ll write it and send it to you. 😉

  6. avatar Anne Moulder says:

    Brilliant!! Another great read and very much needed right now! Thank you!!!!! 🙂

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