The 'Potential' Question
(This is a repost of the tweet-storm here)
At work, as in life, it's a mistake to assume that one knows one's highest potential and capabilities. It's a limiting thought. In fact, a dangerously limiting thought. Let me explain.
A core issue is that 'potential' is defined by the averages. For example, you'd be considered a 'highly skilled' individual in an area if you're more skilled than, say, 80% of the people. But the average misleads, as the Pareto principle applies in nature. Watch this video as reference:
To summarize the video, the "most skilled" people are multiple times more skilled than the average person. Ergo, when someone believes they have 'high potential', they're measuring that against the avg, as opposed to a maximum, which is virtually always unknown or unmeasured (except perhaps in sport). But the implication of measuring against the average: One tends to believe that one's own potential can't possibly be that different (even if significantly higher) than the average person one has encountered. No one truly believes, "I could be off-the-charts vs. everyone I know" with any consistency.
How does one resolve this?
First - Pivot to a new understanding of your own potential. Believe that you know your 'minimum' high potential, and articulate the known potential as clearly distinct from the highest potential possible if you were to double down. Removing the 'mental block' - which considers that average somehow sacrosanct - is crucial.
Second - Set a lofty goal, and act like you didn't get the memo that being able to achieve it wasn't possible (on avg). Take a stretch goal, then double it (P.S: Unless sales targets)
Third - Move incrementally towards the 'impossible' goal incrementally without stressing about a timeline to achieve it, and if possible, not communicating the goals or progress socially. There is a lot of research on this topic - read here and here).
And lastly, remind yourself that the limits of your capacity are virtually unknown - Michael Phelps didn't get that memo on Olympic swimming records being difficult to break.