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What is a person with potential?

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Have you ever heard the comment ‘so and so has a lot of potential’? What does that mean? Is this a binary concept, where the person has presence or absence of potential? To start this conversation, let’s understand what potential means, then let’s make the distinction between low, medium, and high potential and then talk about how that potential manifests.

What is potential?

As we have already mentioned in another article, potential is relative to potency, thus indicating latent capacity, imminent aptitude, future talent available to be explored. Its existence varies depending on the purpose.

What makes a person considered to have high or low potential?

Broadly, while someone very creative has high potential to work with advertising creation, for example, the methodical and super disciplined guy has difficulties for that, having low potential for a creative career and high potential for a career in logistics, for example.

POTENTIAL INDEX = level of coherence between what is needed for a challenge vs. the person’s personality.

It is important to always remember that a single characteristic should never determine the potential for one thing or another, but rather a set of them. The more a professional’s personality traits are consistent with the challenges of the role or position, the greater then his potential for future performance.

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How does a person’s potential manifest?

Someone’s potential is shown by their ease or difficulty in learning about the topic, incorporating it into their repertoire and applying it in everyday life. When the subject or the required competence is part of the individual’s nature, this learning process is easier, faster and, in fact, very pleasurable. Likewise, the opposite is true.

A case of my own that I always talk about in the classroom is my 8 attempts to learn statistics. I took this course in college, master’s, doctorate (3 times) and also had a private teacher at 3 different times. After all that, how far do I go in statistics? Mean, standard deviation, normal curve, sample, confidence interval and representativeness, because I stop here. I have already installed more than 6 versions of SPSS… even so I was never able to complete any analysis on my own. What does this mean then? That I’m really limited? While I teach in 3 languages, I discuss strategy with big names in business management as equals, in statistics I am limited! I can spend years trying to close this gap (and even succeeding) but the truth is that doing this becomes a source of effort, displeasure and a mediocre result compared to those who were ‘born for this’.

How is the potential identified?

There are 2 ways in principle to do this:

  • Accurate measurement using robust personality mapping tool
  • Empirical activities of experimentation, feedback, self-analysis and reflection.

What do I recommend? Do both! Like? For accurate measurement invest in a consistent, deep, robust and tamper-proof tool, the L.A.B.E.L. As empirical activities:

List everything you want to do, think it’s cool and for each of them find a test space. It can be a volunteer, an internship without pay, in a friend’s company, as a hobby, seeing who does it, going where that happens. The important thing is to ‘get dirty’ in the theme to see how much the glamor in your head is reflected in your daily practice.
Ask for feedback from anyone who has seen you in action. Forget about that friend who only says nice words to you and avoids conflict. Talk to someone who is demanding, has a high bar and will bring you things that may bother you but in the end generate valid and relevant input for you.
Reflect on each test. Build a matrix where for each of them you list what was unbearable, tolerable and passionate. This will help you calibrate your scale.

Published June 2020.

AUTHOR [Danielle Amate]
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