Living up to your potential — it’s a familiar phrase. Perhaps you saw it on a report card as a child: the dreaded accusation of not living up to your potential. Maybe you currently regard it as a compliment if someone says you are living up to your potential, especially in the workforce. Do you actually know what this overused phrase means or how it sets you back?

For most people, potential is a fixed point. Reaching your potential means aiming for a relatively modest goal but never exceeding it. While the concept can initially seem helpful, it may ultimately prove a limiting factor. What if you reach that subscribed potential? Are you allowed to stop trying?

The concept of potential isn’t as inspiring as you might think. Often, it’s an invisible prison.

Instead of expecting great things from ourselves, we create an artificial barrier known as potential. This approach to life feels safer; we have virtually guaranteed that we’ll achieve the limited goals we set for ourselves. It’s never fun to fall short of our goals, so we eliminate that possibility altogether.

The inspiring Carl Lentz refers to the concept of potential as a prison — but not only of self-limitations. The term “potential” by its nature relies on the perceptions of others. Think about it: When you conceptualize your own potential, do you refer to your personal goals or, rather, to a future that someone else has envisioned based on their perception of you?

In all likelihood, you’ve confined yourself based on limiting societal concepts or based on negative feedback from somebody you trusted.
Everything changed the moment I realized that my goal in life should no longer be to reach my so-called potential. Instead, I began to think of potential as an artificial cap, preventing me from achieving the greatness for which I am destined.

This discovery has struck nearly everybody who has overcome adversity to make a difference. What if Martin Luther King Jr. had subscribed to society’s idea of potential? How about Albert Einstein, Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey? These amazing individuals lived beyond their potential, and you can too.

Are you imprisoned by your potential? It’s time to break free. I believe that you are also destined for greatness. You simply need to tap into your natural abilities and passion. Once you discover the keys to success, not even your potential will stop you.