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How to Reach Your Full Potential

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In the 14 years I’ve taught in the field of Positive Psychology, I often hear colleagues issue the same dire warning: “If you don’t focus on your own health and happiness, you will never be successful.”

It’s a serious message — and a scary one — but is it true?

As a leadership development facilitator, I work with many executives who are so busy they rarely stop to think about their health or happiness. And yet, most objective observers would place them squarely in the “successful” category. After all, they’re gainfully employed, and most fall in the country’s top-earning financial brackets. Their resumes boast notable experience and career progression. Things look pretty good.

Take John, for example — a senior executive I recently coached. John was the head of finance for a large organization. By his account, he was married to a wonderful woman with whom he had 3 great kids. “This is just ridiculous,” he ranted, having read yet another article informing him that not exercising would keep him from being a success. “I’m clearly successful. Guess I don’t actually need to exercise, huh?”

“I’m not concerned about your success, John,” I responded. He looked at me quizzically. I continued: “You are, by many measures, very successful. What I wonder is, are you achieving your full potential?

John briefly furrowed his brow, considering our discussion. A look of determination replaced his look of concern. If he wasn’t yet reaching his full potential, John seemed to be thinking, what other amazing possibilities were lying in wait for him?

Make Small Changes to Reach Your Full Potential

By whatever measure we choose — career trajectory, paycheck size, a happy family, a completed half-marathon — we often gauge our own success.

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