10 Things You Should Know About Yourself to Activate Potential
Internal Self-Analysis: Attributes and Shadows
The Internal Block takes an inward-looking angle to discover what attributes provide us unique advantages or what shadows are inhibiting our growth. The key to activating your potential is to identify your strongest attributes and leverage them in advantageous ways. The more you can tap into your talents, skills, and other strengths, the easier it will be for you to accomplish your goals in life. There can also be a tendency for a person to stop developing in areas where they are already strong. However, that can be self-limiting and should be corrected. By identifying you Internal Attributes, you can ensure that you are actively cultivating them through intentional practice and focus. Shadows are difficult to spot because they can be behaviors or mindsets that have served us well in the past. However, shadows are harmful to our continued growth because they prevent us from learning new ways and trying new things. Expertise and experience are cherished assets as long as they do not become excuses to stop learning and ignore alterative viewpoints. Behaviors that work well under one set of circumstances might not be appropriate for new circumstances as cultures, situations, and other dynamics change. Objective scrutiny and outside feedback will help you shine a light on your shadows.
1 - What fuels your internal Energy Tank?
There are activities that drain you and those that energize you. You probably experience this on a regular basis when grinding out a monotonous task or attending boring meetings. At the end of those activities, you are left fatigued with less energy to perform at your best. You have also enjoyed activities like your favorite sport, game, or conversation topic that seem to inject adrenaline directly into your veins. You feel electrified and excited with seemingly endless fuel to continue on. Knowing what fuels your energy tank and what depletes it is critical to optimizing your time.
One trick is to turn the things that drain you into habits. When something becomes a habit, the mental energy required to carry out the routine is substantially less. This is why people that structure habit patterns around the things they don’t particularly enjoy doing are much more effective at sustaining those activities over time. If you try to brute-force your way through the depleting activities by your willpower, then that may work for a short period. But eventually your willpower will fade and your performance will suffer.
Another trick is to integrate your energizing activities throughout your day. Are you someone that loves to talk about travel? Then be intentional about finding someone to converse about travel with every day at times when you would normally start to lose steam. This will provide a helpful mental boost to get through another block of time. A more advanced version of this is finding ways to blend invigorating activities with depleting ones. For example, let’s say you have prepare a budget and dreading the event. Combine it with something that will motivate you. So if you are a creative-type, then incorporate some design elements to the budget spreadsheet like interesting colors, fonts, formatting, and anything that stimulates your creative side. Or, perhaps you are engineer-minded. Then you could put extra effort building out some automated scripts, conditional formulas, or pseudo-algorithms that draw from that part of your personality. Combinations like this may be perceived as an unnecessary expenditure of time and effort, but they will make the difference between you burning bright vs burning out.
2 - What talent would most people say you have?
Pursuing things we are naturally good at is one of the best ways to activate potential. However, it can be difficult to self-judge what those talents may be. Our biases obscure our perception of ourselves, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Therefore, an useful exercise for stepping outside of our own perception is to think about how others perceive us. What would your parents, friends, colleagues, or supervisor say you are particularly talented at? If you don’t readily know what they would say, then try asking them. Getting feedback from others can be intimidating and awkward, but it will surely be useful in your pursuit to activate potential.
3 - What topic do you spend the most time thinking about?
Following your passion is debated advice. Mark Cuban is one who believes that following your passion can be disastrous. To be fair, that may be true if a person’s passion is not considered in the context of how it also provides a benefit to communities or solves a problem that people have. However, there is no denying that creating a life where you can follow your passion and provide a positive impact is the best path. Steve Jobs said “You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” Determining one’s passion can be difficult because it is not always obvious or clear. A good technique for figuring it out is to look at what you spend your time thinking about. There is a reason you brain defaults to certain trains of thought. If something interests you, then you’ll probably spend a lot of time thinking about it. That is a good place to start when trying to find your passion.
4 - What is something you do better than most other people you know?
Activating potential typically requires becoming great at something, or several things. This happens through a combination of natural talent, opportunity, and skill development. While we can build skills doing just about anything, we cannot become great at everything. Therefore, if you already have a head start, then leverage that competency, skill, or expertise and continue developing it.
5 - What situations bring out the best in you?
A lot of times our best self is situational and dependent on the environment we find ourselves in. What conditions or circumstances bring out the best version of yourself? If you know what those situations are, then it may help you figure out how to control that aspect of your personality regardless of your surroundings. And if not, at least you will be able to recognize when and where you should spend more time to maximize the opportunities to be at your best.
6 - What behavior or trait has been most responsible for helping you achieve the successes you've had?
Determining our strengths is not always straight forward. Sometimes, you may not recognize an internal attribute as a strength until reflecting back on which characteristics truly contributed to your successes. Think about the times you had to overcome significant challenges or when you accomplished major feats. Were those achievements made possible because of your discipline, perseverance, habits, skills, mindset, resources, or something else? If an attribute helped you be successful in the past, it is no guarantee that it will provide the same benefit in the future. However, there is a good chance that it will.
7 - What behavior or trait has limited you the most from making progress toward future goals?
Shadows are the behaviors and traits that limit our potential. They follow behind us just outside our vision acting as a resistant force to our growth and progress. Sometimes shadows have been with us so long that they have become comfortable and familiar, justifying our hesitancy to correct them. If you want to activate greater potential, then you need to shine a light on your shadows and dispel them. Think back on the times when you have given up, self-sabotaged, and got in your own way. What attitudes, mindsets, habits, and behaviors have held you back. It is time to address them to avoid being held back further.
8 - What habit are you most proud of having?
Self-respect and confidence are formed when we are proud of the things we’ve done. What habits have you intentionally developed to help you grow as a person and achieve the outcomes you desired. It could be that reinforcing key habits and actively nurturing them will continue to serve your best interests. Additionally, think how you developed your best habits to begin with. Are there lessons that can be applied in the future to help you develop new habits that are consistent with the outcomes you seek.
9 - What dominates your focus?
The Focus Spectrum spans from red to green, where red-side focus is about stopping to analyze and green-side focus is moving forward with solutions and actions. It is important that you are fluid and easily move across the Focus Spectrum to whichever side is appropriate. Many people that plateau are getting stuck with red-side focus. Their focus is dominated by thoughts of why something cannot work, all the reasons success is not possible, and all the obstacles that stand in their way. Red-side focus will keep you from moving forward, churning through the same fears and anxieties that prevent progress. Shift your focus to the green side and take action. Pursue progress, not perfection. Then learn to adapt as necessary to keep moving toward your desired outcome.
10 - How would you want people to describe you if they could only choose one word?
A core competency, or core strength is that single greatest attribute that gives us a huge advantage in life or in the pursuit or our goals. Sometimes our core strength is already fully developed and obvious to us. Other times, it may be a diamond in the rough that requires some polishing before it really shines. Ask yourself, “what is the one word how you want people to describe you?” Chances are, this is, or should be, your core competency.