We Are Mostly Unused Potential

The book The Other 90% by Robert K. Cooper is a game-changer. The Other 90% is about the culmination of Cooper’s journey to keep a promise to his grandfather. His grandfather offered this challenge:

Robert, all of us are mostly unused potential. It’s up to you to become the most curious person you know and to keep asking yourself, What is my best? Keep finding more of it every day to give to the world. If you do that, I promise that more of the best than you can ever imagine – and in many ways beyond money – will come back to you. pp. xiv-xv.

Cooper said that accepting his grandfather’s challenge shaped his life in ways he never anticipated: “His challenge has moved me to independently study life and leadership from a different perspective, as an ordinary man searching for hidden human possibilities.” p. xv. Wow! As someone who works daily to help people find their hidden possibilities, Cooper’s book and challenge resonated deep within me.

As Cooper wrote about our hidden possibilities, the golden nuggets piled up. Like this one:

Every one of us has inherent qualities that anchor us in the world and enable us to shine. To live in that way, we must clarify our own values and understand those of others. It’s one thing to be alive. It’s something else altogether to live – and work – according to who you are deep down. p. 39.

The question becomes how do I find my best self?

To enjoy a better life, we must act and think differently. Stepping into a bigger life usually means engaging in deep personal change. And when I say things like deep personal change, people tend to tune out. But I encourage you to keep reading as there are golden nuggets below you don’t want to miss.

Robert E. Quinn addressed this deep change that is necessary for transformation far more eloquently than I ever could in his book Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. He offers that

To make deep personal change is to develop a new paradigm, a new self, one that is more effectively aligned with today’s realities.  This can occur only if we are willing to journey into the unknown territory and confront the wicked problems we encounter. This journey does not follow the assumption of rational planning. The objective may not be clear, and the path to it is not paved with familiar procedures. This tortuous journey requires that we leave our comfort zone and step outside our normal roles. In doing so, we learn the paradoxical lesson that we can change the world only by changing ourselves.   This is not just a cute abstraction; it is an elusive key to effective performance in all aspects of life.

Quinn believes that each of us has the potential to change the world but

Because the price of change is so high, we seldom take on the challenge. Our fears blind us to the possibilities of excellence – and yet another formidable insight. This insight concerns the price of not making deep change. That price is the choice of slow death, a meaningless and frustrating experience enmeshed in fear, anger and helplessness…

I am not interested in a slow death. I want to be an effective performer in all aspects of my life. That means journeying into the unknown to confront my wicked problems. I have discovered that finding the next better version of myself is a life-long journey. There is always something to work on and that makes it easy to give up; to choose to work on nothing. That’s why I keep these questions on my desk:

•         What's at risk if you don't change?
•         What would you create for yourself in this moment if you stepped past your own beliefs?

One night, in the heat of despair of being stuck in a place I didn’t like, I wrote these words:

Despair has come and gone. All hope is lost. Utter defeat hangs in the air. Now maybe things can change.

Here’s to empowering, improving and achieving before reaching utter defeat or before putting it all at risk.

Until next week, may you be surrounded by all the llama llove you can handle.

Tomi Llama