High Potential – Achieving That Allusive 1 Percent

We All Know a Person Working at 100%…

If I asked you to think of a co-worker that you believe has really high potential, you could probably name that person without the skip of a heartbeat. ‘It’s Jane, she does…’ – that sentence. That sentence you just said to yourself, or rather the little voice in your head said to you, that is the key.

Jane has higher potential than most of the office because she… What is that quality? Maybe it is because she is always surpassing her sales targets. Maybe it is because she always seems to get everything done and never falls behind. Or maybe it is because she is a proper goody-two-shoes that sucks up to the manager and gets treated better than everyone else! OK, come on now, she is not that bad. My apologies.

Ultimately, Jane has the highest potential for a reason. My task to you – go find out what that reason is and do it. Cool? Alright. Article finished, my work here is done.

Ok, seriously. What are we talking about here? Well, it is all about high potential at work. Not how good you are, necessarily, but how good you might be when continuing down the same road. This distinction is important for the realisation that it might not be Jane. Yes, Jane seems to be very good at her job, she hits her targets and everything. However, what if she has been this way for five years? What if she was really really awesome five years ago, but has stayed the same? Plateaued in her upwards climb. That is a great staff member, consistently good. A staff member who is not just consistently good, but consistently better than they were before, that is high potential.

The One Percent

OK, what do I mean by this?

Female feet with text 100 percent written on grey sidewalk.

I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues about this mysterious magic dust that seems to have been sprinkled on some people and not others. We, collectively, call it ‘the one percent’. This implies that ninety-nine percent of people operate and ninety-nine percent capacity. It is those that utilise their extra one percent that really shine.

Some, we have discovered, seem to be born with it. A natural sprinkling of intuitivity. Like Einstein, for example, who actually made (according to our discoveries) more cognitive connections per second than the average human brain. I really hope you find that as fascinating as I did because… the man actually thought quicker than us. You rarely think about the physicality of thinking but there are neurons firing around your brain all the time. The bottom line is; Einstein’s brain fired its neurons… quicker. Wow. That was his sprinkling of magic dust.

The other side of this is people that were not born with this sprinkling. Instead, these people have managed to tap into this extra percent manually and use it to their advantage. Oftentimes it causes people to make big changes. The one percent drives them to; start waking up earlier and doing an hour of work before the day starts, going to the gym in their lunch hour to work on themselves mentally, to become better time managers so they can be present in all aspects of their lives. The one percent really does make changes like this. It gives people that did not have it, high potential.

So, How Do You Tap into This One Percent?

There are a few key things you can do for this, however, it just begins with an important note. The definition of potential is having the capacity to develop yourself in the future. What this means is, you do not necessarily have to learn and expand your knowledge or skill range. Utilizing that extra one percent simply means tapping into potential that already exists – a further reach in what you are already achieving. Think of this as more of an ‘on the business’ approach, rather than ‘in the business’, where you might train a new skill to become better.

Those things that were listed above; keeping atop your mental health, being a better time manager and being present in your life. These are not ‘work skills’, so to speak. They are personal skills that help you tap into that extra stretch of potential. All these things that obscure or obstruct the efficient path to success are simply removed by this one percent. Developing new ways to jump the hurdles is a lot of unnecessary work but finding a way to remove those hurdles – that is really tapping into that extra potential. A ‘hurdle’ may be your mental health. Stress and pressure from work can reduce your overall performance. So, carving out some time to do things you enjoy will make the time you do spend at work more valuable because your mind is not so clouded by stress.

My Actionable Tips:

1. Stop Wasting Time

One of the biggest hurdles on your path to success is time management. Now, it is very possible that, when at work, your time management is second to none. However, how much time do we spend at home, outside of work hours, scrolling through social media? For me, it is more than I would care to admit and I am sure it’s the same for you. So, how about cutting that time by, say 75%. Imagine the time you now have to; go to the gym and feel happier about yourself, to spend time with your family and cherish those connections, or sneak in that extra hour on a Friday afternoon so that you don’t spend the weekend with one eye on your emails.

The amount of time that is at our disposal is much, much more than most would believe. ‘There’s not enough hours in the day’, a common phrase. If the people that said this knew how much time they are probably wasting per day, they’d stop saying it.

Pink alarm clock in a pink bin

2. Go Forth and Celebrate… The Small Wins

One of my favourite household phrases at home is ‘celebrate the small wins’. Let me analogise. Let’s say you are trying to lose a bit of weight. You have set yourself a goal to lose five kilos in thirty days. My question: Why? Science tells us that we get exactly the same dopamine rush from seeing one less kilo on the scale reading than we do from five less kilos. For your brain and mind, it is exactly the same. So, the goal should be to lose one kilo in a week. Then another the next week, then another etc. If you strive for a distant goal with no dopamine rush in the

interim, you are much more likely to get discouraged and end up not achieving your goal. Strive for, and celebrate, the small stuff first. Let it accumulate.

3. Read the Room

Being intuitive is one of the best qualities you can have and trusting that your intuition will see you right is equally as important. Being intuitive means you can understand things a little better, a little quicker. It makes things easier to prioritize because you are not basing things simply off of verbal communication, but off of your intuition in the situation, too. You can better understand what people want and how they want it, so you can deliver specifically tailored results for each task.

This helped me in college. My final assignment for the first year was to create a music video. My teacher was a man that looked favourably upon ‘taking the plunge’. He wanted us to be bold and try for something that was a little out of reach. My intuition told me this and I followed it. Diving into a rather complex technical concept that made my teacher’s ears prick up. I knew that, even if I screwed it up big time, he would reward my bravery. This got me a great final grade.

Complacency – the death of progress

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone quote

That, from my teacher, was actually a direct quote. ‘Give something a go that is a little out of your reach at the moment.’ What he meant by this, was to use the 15 weeks we had to learn and develop into someone that can produce something they could not produce before. This learning process was very valuable. What it taught me was not to become complacent.

If you struggled to name someone at the beginning of this article, then it is probably you. The irony is that, even if you could name someone quickly, it still might be you. High achievers with big potential often find it very easy to recognise their flaws, making it even easier to highlight someone else’s strengths over theirs. Before we talk about complacency, you need to know how to recognise your high potential.

The Three Key Elements of High Potential

1. Consistency

Consistency is the key to success in literally anything. No one, apart from Rick Astley, has ever done something once and had it be successful straight away. Those people that try and fail but try again and fail again and continue to do this until they have reached their goal. Those people are incredibly hard to discourage. If you feel you have this tunnel vision looking only to success in your endeavours, you might be the Jane of the office.

2. Catalytic Learning

Like Einstein, some people simply learn quicker than others. This is part of the ‘one percent’ that these people are born with. They often know and understand their own styles of learning and strive to discover within these parameters. These people read, understand, learn and thus translate information very quickly. There is that word again, intuition, it helps a lot with this. If you feel you tend to grasp things quite quickly, but not only this, tend to be able to translate learning into actionable solutions quite quickly then you are probably the Jane of the office.

3. The Fire

Close up of fire flames against black background

Whilst a lot of people strive to succeed because it means; higher position in the company, more money, more control, their drive to succeed is usually based on not much else. People will do a lot of things for money, even if they hate their job, they will usually appear driven to succeed because they are motivated by external factors like money. On the contrary, high potential people are driven to succeed simply by the nature of success. They are usually very passionate about what they do. Success does not mean money, to them.

It does not mean less stress for them, and it certainly does not mean status for them. It means, simply, success. These people set out their goals because they want to achieve those goals, not because achieving those goals means a higher salary. You would be surprised at the percentage of people that do work this way, driven by external factors.

If it is not about the money, for you, you might be the jane of the office.

So, Are You the Jane?

Well, if you possess these three aspects of a high potential person, then you probably are.

Now, back to complacency…

So, you have discovered that you are one of the high potential workers in your environment. That’s great! You are officially successful in what you do. The key, now, is to NOT stay there. Going back to what my college teacher said, it is very valuable. The idea of always reaching for something that is a little further than you think you can go is the absolute key to exponential growth.

Staying where you are is easy, but watch as your high potential status slowly falls away as the other high potentials begin to surpass you. If you get complacent and slow down your climb to success, you are still of high potential. The cold reality is, however, that this is the worst possible place for you to be. Someone that is of high potential, someone that could really do well but is not fulfilling that potential to the maximum is worse than someone of little or no potential at all.

Don’t get complacent. Keep reaching a little bit further every time.

If you are of high potential, strive to recognise it. If you believe you have recognised it in yourself, you are in for a hell of a ride. Now, peel your eyes away from this ever enticing article and go fulfil that potential.

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