March 1, 2021 By, Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director
We have no idea what we are capable of. When you were a child what did you want to be? I wanted to be a nurse, an art teacher, a mother. I had no idea what my potential was or where life would lead me. My youngest son wanted to be a doctor then a cowboy. I heard a little girl say she wanted to be a butterfly. Metaphorically we are all butterflies. We start as clunky, slow caterpillars with no idea of what we can become. As we traverse through life, we go to school, try a variety of jobs, and more often than not we stumble upon something we are good at. We develop skills, and talents, and transform; we grow wings and fly.
What are you most proud of? What was the first thought that popped into your head?
At different seasons of my life, I am proud of different things. I am proud to be a mother, raising children is a tough job, one that never stops. I was humbled when I was asked to serve as the president of the women’s organization at my church. Both of these roles are service-based roles. These experiences helped shape me and prepare me for my current role in the nonprofit industry with the Chamber of Commerce.
Brad Paisley, a top-performing country artist wrote a song titled “Letter to Me” It tells the story of what he would write to himself knowing what he now knows to his younger self. We can all look back on our lives and wish that if we had known what we know now. We think that if we could have had a crystal ball and warn our younger self that we could have saved ourselves from some pain and heartache. The truth is that we need ALL our experiences to grow our wings to fly.
The most profound times of our lives are the situations and challenges we couldn’t have planned for. Choice by choice, effort by effort, we end up being better than we started.
The key to unlocking your potential is being open to learning, self-discovery, and trying. When faced with challenges, do not default to “I can’t”. Instead, focus on what you can try. Your effort will be rewarded with the richness of the experience and an awareness that your capability extends far past what you imagined possible.
Ways to Unlock your potential
1. Try new things.
2. Be a lifelong learner.
Becoming a lifelong learner means being open to learning new things. You do not always have to be in a formal classroom setting to be learning. It could be taking a class, reading a book, volunteering and so much more.
3. Don’t give up.
Every failure is a stepping stone. We need the falls to help us grow. F.A.I.L. means First Attempt In Learning. Seize each opportunity.
4. Become a great relationship builder.
Surround yourself with positive people. People who will help you, encourage you, and support you in the good times and the hard times.
5. Be willing to start from the bottom.
Everyone starts somewhere at the bottom. As you advance in your career and change jobs you may not always start at the bottom, however the humble leader who is willing to learn and understand the business from the bottom up will earn the respect and trust of the team members. You will never know everything in the business, there will always be someone else who knows something more than you. The key here is to be teachable.
When I worked in Higher Education, a brand-new middle manager came onto the team. I will never forget his first day, he pulled up a chair, sat beside me and said “Teach me what you do”. He willing sat and learned the duties and responsibilities of my job which gave him a greater understanding of my role and helped direct him to lead with vision and purpose.
6. Be optimistic.
No journey is easy. There will be hardships and challenges, a positive attitude helps guide you through the tough times.
7. Serve Others.
8. No excuses.
The best leaders are those that have learned that the journey is never about themselves or how fast they reach the top. It is about helping others, even if that means that others pass you along the way.
When you focus on the TRY. The first step is always the most challenging, then keep stepping, keep trying. The value of the experience is not the outcome but the journey, the finding ways to contribute to support others. That is what leadership is.