So Much Potential

If I am ever truly disappointed in a person or organization, usually it has to do with the fact that there is wasted potential. It could be the person giving up on himself, or more often, it’s an organization getting in its own way. Whatever the reason, when I know there is so much that could be done, I hate seeing the void.

Then there are people who see the potential and wonder what it is they can do with it. Then I get excited.

One of the things I am learning is that when it comes to potential, we often become hindered by the fact that it can seem overwhelming. One idea can inspired hundreds of second ideas, then thousands of third ideas…you get the picture. For some people, they are able to grasp the potential and move forward. For others, there’s a little voice that says, “Why are you even bothering to dream? You’ll never get it done…”

My best advice is to talk to other people about this idea, share the potential with them. Often they have solutions you may not have even considered. I know for me, I am always amazed to find a volunteer base or source of funding to which you might have access if you just ask.

Then there’s the issue of context. Context plays a huge role in whether or not people see potential. For example, in many MBA programs, it is expected that you “start” a number of companies through your coursework. You learn a lot of what goes into just making one or two things happen in a business, and you probably walk away with a greater appreciation for things like industry standards and the Internet.

The problem, however, is not that we must start companies, but that the context is all wrong for the lesson learned. We do not all want to be¬†entrepreneurs, but it seems like a forced culture we must endure if we’re going to be competitive leaders. There’s the argument that the entrepreneurial spirit is critical even in corporate settings.

I agree, however, the messaging is mixing up the lesson to be learned. This isn’t about corporate vs. startup. It’s about seeing the potential. If we are better at framing the need to see potential, then we would see more engagement and innovation when it comes to these business ideas.

This isn’t just about the opportunity. While we need to know how to take something from nothing, most of us will walk into a company and inherit projects with baggage and outside factors that present more boundaries than a wide-open opportunity may have. I argue that you have to see potential from these pieces, and then make something of that potential.

The difference between all of us down the line will be this mark of potential. Did you see it? Did you waste it?

Did you not only live up to it, but did you live past it?

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Category(s): Leaders
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