The purpose of every individual, organisation and nation is to produce; to lead; to bring out, to bring forth what is within (the potential!).
The Art of Deconstruction. In the first installment of this piece, I demystified the concepts of Productivity and Leadership. While it may seem colloquial, deconstruction is an effective way of achieving real understanding. This principle of breaking things down is an ancient practice which is at the heart of the many successes of the industrial and post-modern era (Think Henry Ford et al). Even the most sophisticated systems of today running on complex algorithms can be reduced to mere zeros and ones! The challenge of today is how to help individuals, organisations and nations to maximise potential. In this piece, I will be expounding on the principal idea of the human pursuit of more by unpacking the power of human potential amongst other things.
The key to maximising the productivity of anything and certainly that of a human being is to unlock the potential.
The Science of Potentials. Consider for a minute that over seven billion of us and none of us have the same finger print. If that doesn’t excite you, I am afraid nothing else will. Seriously though, what are the chances that you are a fake? I need you to process what I just said. You are an ORIGINAL and I have a proof to back it up – Your finger print. It doesn’t get more scientific than that does it? Let us demystify the concept of potentials. Potential is an adjective. The root word (you sure bet it is Latin) is “potentia” which conveys the idea of power, might and force. It also coveys this idea of unrealised possibilities, of effectiveness and impact. This should be as plain as daylight but so that we are clear, the potential of every human being is exactly like their fingerprint – No two are ever the same.
We must shove aside arrogance and embrace in many ways than one the wisdom of the old. The ancients knew more than we like to accept.
The Philosophy of Potentials. In thinking about the potential of a human being, there is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from the ancients. Our civilization has a lot to learn from those who have gone ahead of us. While we may be way more technologically advanced and always at the cutting edge of the new, I opine that we must shove aside arrogance and embrace in many ways than one the wisdom of the old. On the subject of potentials, we most assuredly owe a lot to men like Socrates; the great Greek philosopher who was well ahead of his time. He was the one who declared the Roman aphorism “Know Thyself“. More to come on this maxim.
I am a witness to how entire old ways of working have been jettisoned based on new superior thinking and evidenced propositions.
In the New. We live in very interesting times for so many reasons. One of such reasons is that at this very present moment, humanity has made significant advancements in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) evidenced by tangible innovations of multiple proportions. Similar progress has been made in humanities (Arts, Music and other variants of expressions). The field of management has also made landmark accomplishments with new theories and models that seek to empower people to do more. I am a witness to how entire old ways of working have been jettisoned based on new superior thinking and evidenced propositions.
Having lived through the horrors of performance management, I am happy to assert that the new system rightly branded “Performance Achievement” truly works.
Forward looking organisations in the last few years have begun replacing defunct Performance Management systems that have been in use for decades. The old system was based on post-mortem review of performance which saw employees go through twice a year performance reviews. Considered ineffective for many reasons, the old system resulted in demotivation and disengagement of a lot of employees. The preference is now for continuous reviews of performance where employees and career counselors are encouraged to have meaningful conversations to facilitate engagement. This system has been adopted by my current employer and having lived through the horrors of performance management, I am happy to assert that the new system rightly branded “Performance Achievement” truly works.
The million dollar question is what happens to millions / billions of other individuals who may never get an opportunity to undergo a formal strength assessment?
Keys to unlocking potentials. The late Peter Drucker like Socrates was a man ahead of his time. In his treatise titled “Managing Oneself” (a MUST read), he distilled very powerful principles which I consider to be essential to unlocking the potential of every leader. It turns out that yet again, the ancients have proven to be very well ahead in the things that truly matter such as the need to pursue the knowledge of oneself. People like me who are in the employ of forward looking organisations of this world are in many ways fortunate to be exposed to this type of thinking. The million dollar question is what happens to millions / billions of other mortals who are starved of this all important knowledge and who may never get an opportunity to experience the beauty of the Performance Achievement model. Increase in profitability driven by greater engagement, reduced attrition are some of the value propositions of Performance achievement but the greatest
One of the keys to unlocking your potential is to: (1) Discover, (2) Apply and (3) Grow your STRENGTHS. Your strength is what you are gifted at; talented at; good at!
Discover your strengths. Although born as ORIGINALS, many human beings die as mere copies. There is truly no greater tragedy beyond this. Think about the unforced rhythm that comes with fishes swimming and birds swimming. These creatures simply do what is quite natural; a fish that cannot swim is as good as dead; same for birds and most other creatures. Believe it or not, this is same for us human beings. A human being is born to lead. Just before someone dismisses this point as obnoxious of the importance of training and how skills acquisition works, let me assert unequivocally that I am a believer in growth and development but there is no point trying to teach a fish to fly (I know there are flying fishes but that is beside the point).
Millions if not billions of people are trapped in the wrong job/career/trade/course; some of these people are like fishes trying to climb a tree.
Indeed, it is proven that birds like Eagles have very strong training regimens plus when you add the number of hours they fly and the height at which they do that, its no surprise that Eagles fly to where no other birds can fly to (yet, much of this is determined by the nature). This is true for fishes too. Thousands of hours in the water makes for mastery. However, in the case of humans, millions if not billions of people are trapped in the wrong job/career/trade/course; some of these people are like fishes trying to climb a tree.
I am not aware of any educational school system that does this for anyone.
To discover your strength, you have to become aware of the things you are exceptional at. Just as your fingerprint is unique to you, there are absolutely things that you are most suited and exclusively gifted with. I am talking about things that if bench-marked with others, you are more than likely to be the best and even when you are not, the originality that you bring to such things will more than distinguish you from a random group. The greatest crisis is that most schools never consider this part of education. I am not aware of any educational school system that does this for anyone.
For people like me, one of the perks you get from being an employee of a forward looking organisation that understand this Secret of the Universe is you get to do a Strength Assessment for free which helps you to identify you strengths. For other mortals who may not be able to pay for a strength finder assessment, you will have to make do with the power of your own self-assessment as well as feedback that comes from other people telling you what they perceive you are good at. According to Jim Collins, “You will have to closely observe yourself as if you were a scientist studying a Bug; pay attention to your own affinities; things that give you the greatest joy”. Good news is that while strengths assessments give people a framework within which to discover and understand their strengths, it is by no means a silver bullet. It is expedient for people to deliberately discover their own strengths either by self-observation or seeking feedback from others. One of the best ways to discover your strength is to ask yourself or others a simple but very profound question: SO, WHAT AM I REALLY GOOD AT?
Next. In the next installment, I will be looking to unpack practical steps on how to assiduously apply your strengths.
Accenture Performance Achievement https://www.slideshare.net/DanielleLogan1/performance-achievement-icf-maryland
Managing Oneself http://academic.udayton.edu/lawrenceulrich/LeaderArticles/Drucker%20Managing%20Oneself.pdf
Gallup Strength Finder https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/