Jay Rifenbary

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Living Up To Your Potential - It's Never Too Late

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Do you desire to be more successful in life than you are? I would hope you do, as it provides an inspiration to wake up each day. To believe you have the potential to improve your life is imperative for being motivated to excel, and optimistic about your future. If you do not believe in your potential to be a better you, why get out of bed? Potential is defined as, “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness”, “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.” A strong belief in your potential first stems from having a foundation of personal core values that you strive to implement daily. Without the existence of core values there is no path to guide how you will ethically live up to that potential.

Core values provide the framework to align what you strive for with who you are, and what you believe in. Living your core values is the cornerstone for building a positive attitude, and attitude is a reflection of your self-respect. Therefore, a positive attitude plus self-respect is a formula for a better you.

What areas of your life would you like to improve upon? When was the last time you asked yourself such a question? I believe we all have the potential to become better individuals. Although there may be some physical and psychological restraints to the extent of that improvement, making the choice to delve into your untapped skills and talents is a positive adventure in itself. For example, how enjoyable might it be to start an art class, take piano lessons, join an outdoors club, take on a new physical challenge, be further involved in your community, take up a cause, or study a new subject matter of interest? There is always the potential for failure, but more importantly there is the potential for success. Joseph Campbell stated, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

Expecting something in your life to change and improve by always doing the same thing is a definition for insanity. Life has a way of offering to all of us the opportunity to discover a new experience and gain a new perspective. Are you one to recognize and grab on to those opportunities, or are you one to expect someone else to do it for you? If it is the latter, say hello to believing you are entitled. Entitlement destroys human potential because there is no perceived effort needed to what one believes he or she deserves. Without effort there is no potential for personal or professional growth. In physics, potential is the quantity determining the energy of mass in a gravitational field. Life is your gravitational field, you are the mass, and without substantial energy there is little potential for further success. As Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Self-Esteem is defined as “pride in one’s self”, and pride is defined as “dignity and self-respect.” Living up to your potential, as with self-esteem, is earned not given. It is essential to instill this principle of understanding in your children for they will gain a better appreciation for themselves when they realize they have earned their accomplishments. An “everybody gets a trophy” type of mentorship does little to encourage a high degree of effort by those being mentored. It stifles what it means to live up to one’s potential. As with any fulfilling endeavor, the effort you put in directly correlates with the level of reward that is returned.

Seven steps to unlocking your potential include, * recognize what you would like to improve upon, or research something new you would like to do * understand your limitations and levels of expectation * take everything in moderation, do not bite off more than you can chew * prepare properly to prevent poor performance * pace yourself, yet proceed with enthusiasm * be resolute in your commitment to the new endeavor, quitting is not an option * celebrate the accomplishment and how it has contributed to your zest to live life to the fullest. As Helen Keller so poignantly noted, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”



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