Human potential is encapsulated in both our talents and energy—our knowledge, skills, experience and reserve all play a role. But our potential is only realized when we choose to act in ways that drive our success. No matter how capable we are, unless we choose to apply our potential, we aren’t likely to reach the heights we were born to scale.
How we choose to think, feel and act in every moment of every day determines the outcomes we are able to create. Although a single choice or action might seem inconsequential, the cumulative effects can derail us from our path to success.
For many people, choosing to act is easier said than done. Limiting beliefs and fears often hold us back from acting when we need to. It’s common for dreams to go unrealized because people fail to step forward.
When has failing to act constrained your potential? Take control of your destiny with these four tips.
1. Take ownership.
Success begins with taking ownership for the choices you make and the outcomes you achieve. Choose to step into the driver’s seat of your life and deliberately create what you want. Life can be challenging, but the choices you make about how you respond ultimately define the experience you live. Choose not to be a victim; choose to be in charge of your own destiny.
2. Know yourself.
Understanding not only your capabilities but also how you typically operate is essential to your ability to leverage your potential. Begin by understanding your values, beliefs and passions. Observe your thoughts and emotions. Contemplate how you typically think and feel in certain circumstances. Consider the influence this has on the way you choose to act.
Reflect on the reasons you don’t act. Do you allow unfounded assumptions to deter you from fully exploring opportunities? Do you hesitate to act when fears of the unknown, failure or loss creep in? Do you struggle to find the confidence to approach people and ask them for what you need?
3. Energize your spirit.
How you choose to behave is in part a reflection of the strength of your spirit. Visualize your spirit as a balloon filled with positive energy. The strength of this energy reserve has a profound impact on how you think, feel and behave. When energized, you are more likely to feel and be engaged, determined, driven and courageous. Conversely, when drained of positive energy, you are more likely to make choices that undermine success.
The strength of your spirit is impacted by four key factors: the health of your mind, body, relationships and environment. Understand how each energizes or drains you of energy. Do you tolerate relationships that drain you? Do you spend time with people who are energizing to be around? Are you providing your body with the fuel it needs to meet the demands you place on it? What role does your mind play? To what extent do the environments in which you live, work or socialize uplift you or drain you?
4. Choose to believe.
The beliefs you hold about yourself, your circumstances, the future and your ability to influence that future unquestionably impact the outcomes you achieve. Those most likely to succeed are people who believe they can. As Oprah Winfrey tells us, “You become what you believe.”
Recognize when a lack of belief is holding you back from making good choices. Challenge these beliefs with evidence of why you should think and feel differently. Give yourself credit for what you have already achieved and respect the strengths you possess. Accept that we all have weaknesses, but we also have strengths to offer.
Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. She works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Getting the Best From People and The Corporate Dojo: Driving Extraordinary Results Through Spirited People.