How much of your potential are you actually using? It’s a question that requires honesty with yourself and a willingness to critically analyse yourself. In this blog, I reflect on my journey over the last five years and my potential when it comes to racing Triathlon.
This blog will ask you to consider how much of your potential you are actually using, whether this varies in different areas of your life and what you can do to move closer to your full potential.
What is potential?
The Cambridge dictionary defines potential as ‘someone’s or something’s ability to develop, achieve, or succeed.’
Your full potential isn’t necessarily a destination but rather a journey of liberation from the limitations put on you by yourself or others. This journey takes patience, self-awareness, bravery, and planning.
What have we discovered?
At Compass for Life when we ask our clients about how much potential they are using, the most common answer is 60%. That is a lot of untapped potential hanging around!
Ask yourself and be honest with your answer, about how much of your potential you think you are using? It may differ across areas of your life, for example relationships, hobbies, and work.
My journey to unleash the potential
In 2014, I took part in my first short distance triathlon and a year later I was lining up for my first long distance one. This jump in distance was an increase of about 105 miles to cover. The question is, ‘did this move me closer to my full potential?’
Looking back, I guess it did move me along on my journey as it was through this that I unearthed an untapped talent for endurance. On reflection, I was still probably only drawing on about 65% of my potential.
Now, we have all had those golden moments where the right message, at the right time by the right person makes us stop, sit up and ultimately make a change. For me this was in 2017 whilst reading John McAvoy’s book Redemption (an absolute must read) and a line that said,
This instantly changed my outlook to racing triathlon and I decided in that minute that going forward I would be competing, not just completing as I had since I started racing 3 years previously.
To me, this was going to be a big part of my journey towards reaching my full potential. Nevertheless, thinking this and doing something about it are very different things. We all know those people who are always talking a good game but never actually do anything and I wasn’t going to be one of them!
How to increase your potential
1. Belief and support
First you need to adopt a growth mindset (Carol Dweck will help you understand this) and believe you are destined for greater things. In my epiphany moment of wanting to compete rather than just complete I truly believed in myself and knew I had more to give.
Once we have belief in ourselves we want to surround ourselves with others that believe in us. I used to think of everyone like drains and radiators, but absolutely love this podcast from The High Performance Podcast (forward to 23 mins) for a different and amazing explanation of how people give and take energy from you.
For me, I decided to put my new Super North Star of competing in the very capable hands of Sam Proctor Triathlon Coach. Having a coach, I decided takes away my ‘decision making fatigue’. What I mean by this is that he does all the thinking for me: planning sessions; keeping an eye on the stats; knowing when I need to rest; but ultimately giving me the confidence to push harder. If he believes I can hit various speeds or a certain power, putting them in a training session gives me the belief I can reach them.
2. Have a plan
This is what the Compass for Life model is all about, so take time to make your plan! Below was my plan back in 2018.
- Super North Star – to enter the 2018 season to compete
- Ethos – honesty, 100% in that moment, belief and trust
- Strategy – follow the sessions which are set and the plan for race day
- Warrior – to look after myself (sleep, hydration, nutrition and rest) and develop my mental strength, as well as my physical
2019 was my last long distance triathlon because of the pandemic. This race gave me the opportunity to push my mental and physical resilience and I hit some pretty big personal goals. The Compass model was really getting its test run. I had the best race, full of PBs across all 3 disciplines and the outcome was to be crowned the European champion in my age group. But had I reached my full potential? Of course not, as there is always more to learn and more to give.
3. Acceptance and learning
Not everything always goes to plan but it’s the way we react in these situations which is key. I had a valuable lesson in 2021 at the London Marathon. Despite having a plan and strategy I decided to ignore it as I got overexcited! I had to accept that sometimes we get the race we need, not want. Instead of blaming others and things; I accepted and owned every decision that day and the growth as a consequence has taken me another step closer to my full potential.
4. Build your Warrior spirit
To move closer to fulfilling your potential we need to look after ourselves both mentally and physically. The more resilient we are in both areas, the easier the journey. We can take the steps forward with greater ease and deal with the setbacks with more empathy, acceptance and, of course, growth.
To build your Warrior spirit take these simple steps and do small things consistently:
• Prioritise sleep and do not compromise it
• Hydrate first thing before you have caffeine and drink water throughout the day
• Fuel yourself with natural foods, not processed ones that are filled with salt, oil and sugar (think SOS)
• Move your body as much as you can: walk everywhere, dance when your favourite song comes on and stretch. Do this outside whenever possible
• Be present in the moment and find moments throughout your day for ‘me time’. Research found that we spend 47% of our time not concentrating on the task we are doing. That is nearly half of our lives going by without us noticing. Listen to the birds singing or the trees in the wind, read a new book, disconnect digitally and just sit with your thoughts.
My next steps to fulfilling my full potential
Hopefully 2022 brings a ‘normal’ race season with international travel. I have a busy, but well-planned race calendar starting with the Brighton marathon in April, Majorca 312 bike race in May, Outlaw full distance triathlon in July, Ironman Italy in September and London Marathon a couple of weeks after to end the season.
My plan for 2022:
Super North Star – to be the best I can in every race and not look back wondering if I could have done better.
Ethos – honesty, 100% in that moment, belief and trust. To encourage others to take part in physical activity by supporting and motivating them.
Strategy – after last year’s London Marathon when I chose to abort the strategy, 2022 is to follow each race’s strategy. This year I am also working hard on getting my pre-, during- and post-race nutrition right.
Warrior – it is fair to say I have become a little obsessive about when and what I eat, when I sleep etc. so whilst I plan on looking after myself, I am going to try and loosen up a bit this year (putting this here means I am saying it out loud!). What is your 2022 plan? What do you want to achieve and how are you going to access your full potential? Leave us a comment or share your thoughts with us on social media.
Learn more about the Compass For Life programme and how it supports you to access your full potential: https://compassforlife.co.uk