You are cursed since your birthday. We all are, because we live in a cursed society.
Practically every single of us lives with this curse. We grew up with it. We didn’t even notice it. We accepted it, like a person blind from birth to accept darkness as a default.
We are cursed and the name of the curse is the Small Potential.
The Small Potential is a belief that at least 80% of what matters in life is your individual qualities, possessions, character, achievements and performance.
We accept it as an axiom. Of course, you need to have good grades! Of course, you have to shoot goals and get points! Of course, you need to be in top shape! Of course, you need to deliver your projects on time and within a budget! Of course, you need to live in a great house with your family!
But there is one awful thing that underlines this “of course” – and the others be damned.
It Starts in Childhood
Our school system is to be blamed for a big piece of this sad state of affairs.
I had been indoctrinated since my first class that getting good grades is my only education goal. What was worse, no one taught me the importance and value of collaboration. I was limited to the Small Potential since day #1 of entering the traditional school system. Each day, month and year only deepened that indoctrination.
Even when I finally got involved in some collaborative classes in a high school it felt like it was an afterthought. Those group projects “didn’t really matter” in the eyes of the educational system. What mattered were good grades.
It Continues at Work
Work systems were no different. I remember only one environment where group effort was important – when I worked on a salad field in the UK. We were paid by the job and if I slacked, the whole team suffered. Also, if the whole team worked hard we all made more money in the effect.
However, it is hard to say that this system was directed toward Big Potential. There was no growth built in that job. There is a certain limit on how efficient you can get with repeatable manual tasks.
And that was the only instance my performance was connected to my team’s performance in the work setup. I worked for several companies and I’m all too familiar with the infamous corporate yearly performance review system.
Even if there were some points about the team’s performance, they were thrown into like a third wheel. No one has ever paid attention to them. And they were indeed few and far between.
Everything was focused on me: Did I achieve my goals for the period? Did I improve my knowledge as it was assumed? Did I take classes and pass exams? Did I finish my tasks on time and with reasonable quality?
Me, myself and I, all the time.
No wonder I was tricked into Small Potential thinking. I have been indoctrinated for my whole life.
We Look in the Wrong Direction
We kind of realize, there is more than the individual performance, but we consider it to be a small factor, when in fact, it is the biggest one.
I remember when I was changing primary schools at the age of 11 or 12. My mom enumerated all the advantages to her friend and I was listening: the new school was closer, it had better equipment and better conditions.
At the end my mom added with a light air:
“And, by the way, the class Michal goes to is the best in the whole school.”
She had no idea that this was the biggest factor in my educational success. I was a bright kid and I got As’ more often than not. I remember my mom saying how proud she is of me. She never commented about the whole class’ performance.
My boys went to the same high technical school. When I browsed the school’s website looking for a list of textbooks, I discovered that this school is the best in the whole county when it comes to final exam results. To be exact, the average grades of all students are the best. It’s the individual metric, but in this context, it says something about the whole community’s performance.
This metric should attract my attention when my sons were looking for a high school. It should be my primary concern. It wasn’t. I discovered it by accident when my elder son was already attending the school.
We Sense the Littleness of the Small Potential
We know on some subconscious level that Small Potential is small. Several months ago I got a solid verbal spanking from my supervisor. I had been slacking in my day job. It was my problem and my fault. But the argument that was the strongest and hurt the most was:
“The whole team suffers because of your laziness. They have to make up for what you neglect.”
We sense what’s important, but because of lifelong indoctrination, we choose to ignore it. We focus on the Small Potential, instead of the big one: a team’s performance.
But We Choose to Ignore the Big Potential
I have access to several awesome support groups. I’m active in a Facebook group for authors, a couple of groups for online entrepreneurs, and another group for those who advertise their books on Amazon. I still keep a lively contact with my friends from the Transformational Contest. I have a couple of accountability partners. I’m in a mastermind. I have my church community; those folks have been known me for 14 years!
I don’t utilize those connections even in 2%.
And I cannot break out of it. I’m indoctrinated. I focus on myself all the time.
I could’ve got so much more from those communities. I could’ve bounced around every question about ads on Amazon; every question about running an online business; every question about resources for self-publishers; every doubt about my faith; every life’s dilemma.
But I don’t. I don’t ask questions. I don’t ask for help. Interacting rarely even crosses my mind.
What Can You Contribute?
I could’ve helped everybody around so much more. I have so much knowledge about self-publishing, running book ads on Amazon or marketing and technical aspects of creating an online business.
I’ve been married for 18 years; I have three kids – I have life wisdom to share.
I have rich experience about what works in personal development and what doesn’t.
I’ve been in the church community for over 20 years, I study the Bible and read books written by saints every day. I have some spiritual experiences to share.
But I don’t. Why?
Because my knowledge about the Big Potential stays at the intellectual level. I don’t truly realize how important it is to cooperate and interact. I should’ve realized; my church community, mastermind and the experience of the Transformational Contest weren’t theoretical. I gained a lot from them.
Yet, I still don’t feel it at a gut level. It’s like with kids and the importance of education. When I was a kid – and I see the same attitude in my kids – my parents’ preaching about the significance of education fell on deaf ears. School and learning is, in the eyes of kids, a drudgery.
Networking and connecting is drudgery for me. I’m an introvert. I feel good alone. Nothing beats an hour or ten spend with a good book. Certainly, it beats 10 hours spent with other people.
I’m cursed with the Small Potential
You are too.
Iperformance grows. This is how you truly reach your full potential, your Big Potential that is an order of magnitude greater than what you can achieve alone.
Don’t Limit Yourself with the Small Potential
Self-help is a big fat lie. You cannot expand beyond yourself on your own. I cannot as well.
Let it penetrate your thick skull: you are sentenced to minimal results in all areas of your life if you focus primarily on yourself. If you don’t interact with others, if you don’t consider them MORE important than you, you limit yourself to a fraction of what’s possible.
“Nothing is to be done out of jealousy or vanity; instead, out of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not selfish interests but those of others.” Philippians 2: 3-4
Get out of your shell.
I’m going out starting today.