You might know who I am, but you don’t know who I can be

Most people and companies are stuck on who you are today instead of envisioning who you can and will become. The result is an inordinate amount of wasted potential. Here’s how to tap into it…

A few years ago, a young man had an appointment with a successful lawyer. He needed help with his nascent business. That young man didn’t have enough money to pay expensive legal fees, so he asked if the lawyer would accept a small participation in his business in exchange for his services. The lawyer looked at the young man, how he behaved and spoke, he looked at how he dressed, and he made a decision. He decided to turn him down. That young man looked nothing like success, at least in the lawyer’s definition of it. He decided to pass on what he thought not to be a good opportunity. That story happened a few years ago, actually a few decades ago. That young man was Steve Jobs, and as you can already guess, this was the opportunity of a lifetime…

I’ve been told that story a few years ago, while I was in San Francisco. I don’t know if it’s true, but the point it makes is nonetheless an important one. You can never know if the person in front of you is going to be the next Steve Jobs.

Similar stories happen all the time and everywhere. People judge you for who you are but don’t take the time to get to know you, to understand who you can be or will be. Today’s successful people are yesterday’s kids, teenagers, students, waiters, interns, you name it…

Most of us tend to unconsciously believe that the world as we know it, will always be the same, that the intern we work with will stay an intern and not become the president of a Fortune 500 company, that the waiter at our usual restaurant won’t become the founder of a successful startup but the reality around us tells a completely different story…

I believe we should treat people for who they can be and not who they currently are and here’s why:

  • You’ll increase their immediate impact: as you view an intern, for example, as the future vice president he or she might become, you’ll instantly change the nature of your relationship. You’ll naturally move from delegating tasks to guiding an individual on his or her path to success and on the discovery of his or her talent. You’ll be surprised at how fast that’ll transfer into business results.
  • You’ll increase their ownership and autonomy: once propelled into a world where you consider people as a whole, with everything they have to offer, you’ll find that they usually step up to the challenge and start to fully own their responsibilities. They’ll surprise you with the autonomy they’ll display and with their eagerness to rise up to the challenge.
  • They’ll surprise you with innovative solutions: one of the benefits of treating people for who they can be is that they’ll feel more comfortable tapping into their non-work experiences to find innovative ways to solve problems. You’ll therefore benefit from everything they have to offer including the uniqueness of their experience.

To unlock those benefits, you need to understand people at much deeper level and get a more complete view of who they are, where they come from and what their experience of life is. That’s the key to getting the complete picture which leads to better understanding their full potential. I personally use a simple 3-step method to assess the full potential of the people I work with. You can also use it to identify your own full potential. That method contains the areas to investigate to really get to know the person, the right questions to ask and a way to link all of that to workplace potential. If you’re interested in getting it, click here and you’ll immediately receive it…

Another interesting piece of content, which can be really helpful to discover the full potential of the people around you, is to practice ‘Mindful Listening’, because asking the right questions is only part of that equation… here’s a 3 min explanation of what it is and how to do it. It’s part of the “Leading without Formal Authority” course by Lisa Earle and Elizabeth McLeod.

 

At the end of the day, the people around you will reach their full potential. Maybe on a different role or in a different company but they’ll get there eventually, so don’t waste that unused potential and benefit from it right away in your business. All you have to do is to get to know them and connect the dots to a higher, fuller experience…

What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced situations where talented people’s skills where little used or not used at all? Have you ever been on a role where you could have done much more if someone had been at least a little curious about what you are capable of? Please share and comment…

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