How to Realize Your Maximum Potential and Steps to Get There
What stories do you tell yourself? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Do you believe that you aren’t good at math or writing? Are you “set in your ways?” Maybe you feel like you have one foot moving forward, and the other firmly rooted in your past.
To some extent, we all do this. These statements can either be our greatest asset or our biggest detriment, because the stories we tell ourselves inevitably become true. Call it labelling theory, self-fulfilling prophecy, or stereotyping. Whatever you call it, when you attach a thought or label to yourself, you become that label.
Gerald Ford reportedly once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” This idea is better explained in the book, Personality Isn’t Permanent, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. One passage reads,
“Labels create tunnel vision. Assuming a label can lead you to being ‘mindless,’ stopping you from seeing all of the times the label isn’t true. As Harvard psychologist and mindfulness expert Dr. Ellen Langer has said, ‘If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration,’” (p 29).
“When you allow yourself to stop defining yourself as a certain ‘type,’ such as ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert,’ you become far more open. Your possibilities and choices expand. Your responsibility and agency increase. You can do what you want to do, regardless of how you currently see yourself,” (p 30).
Who you are and who you want to be are limited only by your personal narrative. Many veterans, who have struggled with transition and the resulting loss of identity, have learned this truth the hard way (including this author). Here are four tips to realize your maximum potential and actively shape your future: