The Labels We Use – Part 2

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 40 (Issue 1044) October 2, 2023

The Labels We Use – Part 2

Last week we introduced the formula put forward by the sports psychologist, David L. Cook, Ph.D., that states “performance equals potential less interference.” If you accept that concept, then peak performance may only be achieved (i.e., maximum potential may only be realized) when the interference that gets in our way is managed if not eliminated. Thus, while you and I might set lofty goals for ourselves, or we might collaborate to set a moonshot goal for our organization, our individual and collective ability to achieve such goals will be limited by any interference we allow to remain in our path. Carrying it a step further, if you consider certain obstacles to be insurmountable – including overcoming any self- doubts you might be carrying – then realizing one’s potential is effectively impossible. The problem I have with that – that we should all have with that – is if we are incapable of achieving our full potential, then why were we given that potential in the first place?

Seriously, are we to believe and operate as if some of the giftedness we have been blessed with is destined to be wasted? I hope not.

Granted, self-doubt can be severely limiting. Similarly, physical laws, competitors’ plans and actions, and constraints of time and money can and do get in the way – if we let them. But consider the case of Roger Bannister, the first person to run the sub-four-minute mile (1954). Then there is Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s conquest of Mt. Everest (1953). Or there is Juan Sebatian Elcano who together with eighteen other survivors of Magellan’s expedition successfully circumnavigated the globe in 1522. There is, of course, an enormous list of “firsts” that until they were accomplished had been deemed unachievable. Visualizing success together with commitment, fortitude, and perseverance can go a very long way in accomplishing what will seem to others beyond reach.

One of the mainstays of our consulting practice involves assisting client organizations with their strategic planning. For many organizations, there is a great temptation to begin their initial stab at planning with little more than a momentum forecast, i.e., more of the same. In essence, leadership is thinking let’s keep doing what we have been doing since we like the results and change is hard. But what we soon find ourselves doing is reminding the client’s leadership that in preserving the status quo, problems are inevitable since everything around them and in their path is changing – usually at a rapid rate. Thus, to keep on keepin’ on is inevitably a formula for disappointment.

Bottom line, our minds and imaginations are remarkable things. Yes, they can become filled with doubt and images of failure. However, they are also incredible at solving problems and visualizing things that do not yet exist. It is in that spirit of what might be and humankind’s ability to grab victory from seeming defeat that I say do not allow circumstances, yourself, or others to convince you you are not worthy or that you are incapable of greatness.

I am not saying new horizons and dreams of better things to come are easily reached. Nothing worthwhile is. But selling one’s self short, as we so often do, is a tragic waste of the time and talent each of us has been given. If you need motivation, think of it as a sacred duty that has been entrusted to each of us.

Soli Deo Gloria

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.” Matthew 25:14-29a

J. Keith Hughey

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Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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