greatest potential woman michelle obama

I’m done with greatest potential

Let’s talk about this idea of reaching our greatest potential. Ughhhh. How often do we hear people discussing upward mobility, or success, or something about reaching one’s greatest potential? I hear this a lot in my social circle, in my family, in my classrooms. I’ve discussed success and potential with my professors, with other students, with best friends and total strangers, but mostly with myself. I want to talk about this because the concept itself is unsettling to me. Reaching one’s greatest potential implies that there is a finish line or a stopping point. Haha! News flash, there’s not. Forget retirement for now, that’s a topic for another time.

Of course we will all eventually hit our peak, but who’s to say when that might be? An ambitious person may spend a great deal of mental effort building formulas and strategies that they anticipate will increase their ability to succeed. I believe in goal setting, but I do not believe in ever predicting the height of one’s potential. I’m done talking about greatest potential.

Consider these two statements…

  1.  “I want to see you reach your greatest potential, buddy ol’ pal!”
  2.  “Hey you, you go-getter, you. I want you to hit one goal and then set a new goal. So on and so forth.”

I like the second approach better. What about you? If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, keep reading…

5 Principles that I am mindful of while journeying towards my next goal (and the next one, and the next one):

  1. Take calculated risks.

Take chances, but think them through. Don’t predict the future, but don’t give a blind “yes” to all opportunities. Don’t bet it all on one roll. With every new venture, find a way to reduce risk. It’s not a perfect science, FYI. 

  1. Fate is foolish

*First things first, this is not religious statement. We’re talking success and only success.* ~Moving on~ Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” The dude was right. Too many of us rely on fate and destiny and other unrealistic, unexplainable forces. I’m all for (and encourage) mental health days and taking breaks, but if your plan was to sit back, relax and let fate do all the work, then I have some bad news for you… that plan is about as weak as OJ’s alibi.

  1. Let your past inspire your future, but don’t let it dictate your decisions

Have a sinful past? Cool, let it fuel you and inspire you. Have a regretful past? NBD, learn from your mistakes. Trying to forget about your past? Impossible, find a way to come to terms with it and move forward. Don’t let bad decisions from your past hold you back; recognize that decision as a learning experience—AKA don’t make the same mistake twice.

  1. You are your own harshest critic, and if you’re not, you should be

I’m not saying you should beat yourself up, self-deprecation is cruel and purposeless. However, to grow and improve we must embrace our aberrations. We must try to understand why we’ve made a mistake so that we can move forward most effectively, and own up to our faux pas if need be. What’s the alternative? Making a boo boo, not learning from it, and then being criticized by others for your ignorance… to heck with that! But remember, perfection doesn’t exist, so be realistic with yourself when it comes to criticism.

  1. Form good habits

Successful people have awesome habits—habits that weren’t just handed to them. Bad habits are easy to form; good habits are a little trickier.  Sometimes we get really excited about a life-changing transformation and in that frenzy, we bite of more than we can chew. Don’t let yourself get to that point. Dream on, dream on, but start small. Little by little, you’ll form action patterns that will become habitual. For example, work at building habits such as goal setting, progress tracking etc. Think about brushing your teeth—it’s not really something you contemplate morning and night, it’s habitual.

TOOLS that successful people swear by:

Note: OF COURSE you can be successful without these tools, but they may significantly improve your level of efficiency.

Desk Calendar

Might seem old fashioned, but if you do use a desk during the day, a desk calendar will help you stay organized. Besides, that pen to paper action will improve your ability to remember those tasks.


Always have stationary on hand. When in doubt, write a thank you card. Nothing beats a handwritten note. Have this tool within your reach is extremely useful. Success isn’t just about you, it’s about the relationships you build, don’t forget that.

Mini Notebook

Keep a mini notebook in your back. You’d be surprised how convenient this tool is for jotting down random ideas, random things to remember, important spontaneous thoughts, etc. I know must of us have smartphones to write in, but I’m telling you nothing beats that pen to paper contact.


Hydration plays a major role in productivity. Get yourself a leak-proof, BPA-free water bottle to ensure you’re keeping hydrated.