What Is Full Potential and Why Aren’t You Reaching It?

by May 3, 2022Coaching, Career Development0 comments

It’s a popular career goal for the ambitious professionals amongst us, to be regularly achieving that next level of success and thriving at your full potential. Often cited in performance reviews and discussions with colleagues is the idea of reaching ‘full potential‘ and excelling in that success status. But what is full potential? And why aren’t you reaching it?

our coaches to explain what is full potential and why aren't you reaching it
Our coaches: Andy, Paul, Steph, and Steve

We asked our coaches at Red Tiger to individually define full potential, and explain their views on what is stopping people from reaching it. Hopefully this will provide some insight into what is and isn’t working for you, and how to make ‘full potential’ attainable in line with your true strengths.

WHAT IS FULL POTENTIAL?

Steph: My definition of full potential is that it’s related to how far someone can stretch their performance using the optimum combination of their strengths and skills. Strengths are the motivators that get people out of bed in the morning, and skills are things that are acquired through experience & learning.

Steve: If you look at standard definitions of the noun ‘potential’ it is always something around someone’s ability to develop, achieve or succeed.

In my view full potential can only be achieved in a work context where key internal and external factors are aligned to enable the person to work at their absolute optimum.  Internal factors are things they can to some degree control: do they have the necessary strengths, skills and experience to succeed.  Externally, they need to be supported by the right team, the right line manager, the right business lead and they need to be fully aligned with the goals and visions of the business they work for.

Andy: Everybody has personal qualities, values you live by, the skills and experience you have gained, let’s say these are your individual characteristics, the things that make you, you… and so your full potential is having the capacity to develop and improve these characteristics to such an extent that you achieve a future success or positive outcome from your development.

Paul: I’m not sure you can ever reach full potential and this maybe where people fail – it’s good to strive for it and to try and break down what that actually looks like.  To me it is all about a balanced stress – one that drives you and that makes you feel confident in what you do!

Who’s definition of full potential resonates with you the most? Leave a comment about what you think!

WHAT, IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, IS STOPPING PEOPLE FROM REACHING THEIR FULL POTENTIAL?

Steph: Firstly a lack of awareness of their true strengths, a lot of people confuse strengths with skills, but psychologically speaking they are different things. And secondly a lack of awareness or confidence of their skills – if no-one’s told them that they are skilled at something, they might not realise or accept that they are. Thirdly, I’d say it’s lack of opportunity – maybe being in the wrong job, maybe even the wrong career, or it might be that they’re not looking for opportunities that match their skills and strengths.

Steve: Firstly, its awareness of themselves – individuals need to be open to explore what their full potential could be, and also to re-evaluate their ‘full potential’ at key stages in their career.

Secondly its around whether their work environment provides them with the right conditions to achieve full potential – do you have the right focus, the right tools, the right materials, the right training, and the right work culture to succeed.

Andy: Two things really mindset and lack of a real plan….. talking about mindset first…. you need to remove the barriers and the negative thoughts which hold you back and stop you from developing and improving. You need to create a positive mindset in which you can really access your full potential and achieve success on reaching your new situation. 

Once your mindset is right, then you need to figure out what steps you need to take to reach that new situation. Where and on what do I need to focus my energy, which relationships do I need to create or develop or drop if necessary, and how do I break down the journey to achieve that greater satisfaction, success and fulfilment. 

PS If you can’t figure out the above maybe you need a coach 😉

Paul: Poor management. Not all managers are poor but there is a large majority that are. This is where coaches come in not just to help coach individuals towards goals but also to help coach managers on how to get the best out of people (using coaching skills). Another facet of this is people not really fully understanding their strengths – this is where tools like Strengthscope can come in to help people understand their strengths and therefore use that to help maximise performance.


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Published by Chloe Feather

Chloe is a recent Human Geography graduate from the University of Leeds, working as Red Tiger’s business admin and marketing assistant.

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