Ask yourself right now “Am I living to my TRUE potential?” True potential is obtainable and sustainable for all who use these three ingredients – time, effort, and discipline.
Several years ago, a good friend of mine became disgusted with his physical health. One day he decided he was not living his true potential in this area of his life and began to set time aside in his calendar for exercise. He made an effort to run and each day made it a little further before stopping. He changed his diet, choosing the salad versus the cheeseburger (discipline). He signed up for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and has now completed several full marathons. Here is a situation in which he grew his capacity and potential through time, effort, and discipline.
Time – We all have the same amount of time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. The question is how are we investing this most precious commodity we call time. Time holds favor to none and is the same to all – rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, educated or uneducated. Our society spends so much time focused on the disparity amongst us but what truly matters is how we invest our time. Most of the differences between the haves and the have-nots can be found in the use of time. The haves do a better job investing the resource of time while the have-nots often squander their time. The point here is that to reach our TRUE potential, we must invest our time wisely and intentionally. Here is a reality check – evaluate the amount of time you invest in entertainment versus education. We will never reach our true potential by investing more in entertainment than education. It is just not possible and doing so will severely limit our contribution and our legacy.
Effort – To achieve our true potential, we must apply effort. We apply effort by taking action. We must take action to move closer to our true potential. Effort is like a muscle. By exercising effort, we grow our capacity for more effort. What was difficult a month ago, we can now do with ease because applying effort grows our capacity. People tell me all the time “I could never run a marathon.” The truth is they don’t want to run a marathon so they tell themselves and everyone else they can’t do it. The reality is they aren’t willing to invest the effort required to tackle such a feat. That is okay but justifying a lack of effort is much different than actually not being able to run a marathon. Let’s call it what it is.
Discipline – My favorite saying is “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” Discipline is what allows us to invest our time and effort so that we might reach our true potential. The most admired people in the world have extraordinary discipline. Discipline is not wanting to do the thing and doing it anyway. Society seems determined to shrink our capacity for discipline. Get rich quick, miracle diet, no money down, etc. All of these marketing ploys work because discipline is freaking hard! Zig Ziglar used to talk about the fact that he was overweight. He would say "For over 24 years I weighed well over 200 lbs by choice – because I have never eaten any food accidentally." Then one day his doctor told him his body was too short for his weight and it clicked. He changed and lived the rest of his life at his ideal weight. He chose discipline over immediate gratification. To reach our true potential, we must do the same.
None of us lack the capacity to reach our TRUE potential. We all have the same amount of time. Each of us can apply the necessary effort. All of us could use more discipline. Identify an area of your life that you would like to change. Apply this simple strategy. Don’t try to change everything at once. Doing so is a recipe for failure. One step at a time is the best strategy. Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Do the work!