After more than 30 years helping untapped talented individuals to recognize and unleash their true potential, I am convinced that everyone is gifted in some way…some people open their gifts later…and sadly, some never open them and stagnate, not even recognizing that they have a gift..
My belief is that a champion resides within us all, waiting to be freed from the inhibitions keeping it dormant. We must learn to develop the champion mindset in order to rise to our own level of greatness. Rick works in the HR department of a large corporation. Although he gets decent reviews, Rick has been told that he has the capability to be an outstanding HR professional, and that he is an under achiever.He recalled that when he was in high school, his football coach kept telling him that he had a “huge upside,” but the coach did not know how to light a motivational fire under him. Rick feels the same way, now in his profession. His reviews ring a familiar bell when they say that he has so much potential, but he has not displayed it as yet. Rick consulted with me in order to determine why he has never lived up to the untapped talent everyone (except himself) believed he possessed. Actually, Rick’s situation is a fairly common one.
- It all begins with well meaning, but misguided advice from parents. Most parents are genuinely concerned about protecting their offspring from danger, embarrassment, humiliation, etc. Accordingly, they think they are doing the right thing when they discourage their children from engaging in activities that the parents predict will lead to some form of failure. Consider these examples of comments from parents: “That football team is loaded with talent, son. It’s unlikely you’ll make the varsity, so why go out?” “Dear, I’ve seen some of the homecoming queen canditates. You’re very pretty, but do you think you really have a chance to make it?” “You’re trying out for the school play? What if you are on stage in the auditorium and you forget your lines?”
Research shows that the vast majority of parents engage in this type of negaive bantor, believing they are protecting their children. The end result for their children is low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and avoidance of risk and challenges. Such unfortunate consequences can become life-long “scripts” unless self-exploration is conducted with a professional therapist or life coach.
- Take control of your inner dialogue. Most people do not actively examine their inner dialogue. They just repeat thinkng habits that began with those self-defeating warnings from their parents and, without insight, can last a lifetime. For example, they may develop the habit of starting a lot of thoughts with the phrase “what if…?” These two words almost always lead to anxiety and fear. Some people beat themselves up with “shoulds, ought to’s, and musts.” This critical self-talk also leads to restrained behavior because of the fear of making a mistake. There are entire books written on taking control of ones’ self-talk, and it is really quite simple to do, but like all skills, gets better with practice.
- Always look at the bright side of events
Unfortunate events that take place in your life, whether they be in school, in sports or on your job, do not cause stress or anxiety, which may inhibit your future performance. These events may be disappointing or even frightening, but it’s not the event that causes an emotion; instead, it’s your interpretation of that event, along with the self-talk that follows.
For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the number of projects on your plate, it’s not the number of projects that is overwhelming you, but what you are saying about those projects that causes you to feel overwhelmed. If you tell yourself “I can’t do all of this,” then you actually set off the “fight or flight” nervious system, which is built into all of us to deal with life-threatening events. Although this situation is far from life threatening, the default position of the subconscious mind is not to take any chances. Taking liberties, it might go something like this: “My master is really worried and I don’t know if it’s life threatening or not, so I’m swithching on the fight or flight system, just to be safe.”
Recognize that you are, indeed, talented. It’s obviously very important to rid your mind of the childhood and adolescent demons that have kept you trapped in a web of complacency and fear of taking risks. Many people hear encouraging feedback from coaches, teachers and supervisors, but in their heart of hearts, don’t really believe it. They believe they have fooled these people, who all have a much better impression of their potential than they do themselves. This has been referred to as the “Impostor Syndrome.”
This explains why so many talented people don’t really believe they are as talented and therefore stagnate into complacency. You must take the risk to begin to believe in yourself, choose to release yourself from your self-defeating thinking patterns and give yourself permission to explore your latent, untapped talent. The key here is choice. You always have the choice in how you will interpret a situation and deal with it. As someone once said, “You can find yourself in the middle of nowhere…or, in the middle of nowhere, YOU can find yourself!” Rick practiced these skills and within a matter of a few months, he was able to let go of the demons that kept his true potential locked up and he began to thrive in his HR position. Within seven months he actually got a promotion!