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Mind Over Matter: Are You Ready to Reach Your Full Potential?

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Mon Jun 20 2016

Mind Over Matter: Are You Ready to Reach Your Full Potential?
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Do you ever feel as though you should be doing something more purposeful than what you are doing now? Do you have a vision for yourself that most people would consider out of reach? If so, it is time to challenge yourself to reach your full potential!  

To prepare you for the next level in your career or personal life, I would like to share my story. I hope my ability to overcome challenges will inspire you.  

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First, you should know that since I was kicked out of college, I have been promoted seven times, earned my undergraduate and graduate degree, obtained an HR certification, and co-founded a not-for-profit organization. I have served as a keynote speaker, presented at conferences, provided career counseling and coaching, designed and facilitated developmental courses, and written articles for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). I have achieved all of these goals while being a wife, mother, and working full time.  

My journey toward reaching my full potential began when I was growing up in Gary, Indiana. I had big dreams and always believed I would change the lives of others. However, I had low self-esteem and suffered from depression. When I left for college in the hopes of becoming the first person in my family to obtain a college degree, I was not mentally prepared. When I was alone in my dorm room I was a prisoner to my negative thoughts and to self-defeat. After my first year, I was suspended for failing too many classes and had to return home. I was most disappointed that I failed because I chose to stay in my room, chose not study, and chose not attend classes. I chose to drown in my own depression. 

When I returned home, I worked several entry-level positions. It was during this time when I realized I was not reaching my full potential. I worked full time alongside high school students, which was frustrating because, as an adult, I was doing things so easy that teenagers, who didn’t yet have a high school diploma, were doing. So, I decided to go back to college. It was not an easy task. I was an adult with responsibilities and bills to pay. I worked full time and attended school part time. It took me more than a decade to earn my bachelor’s degree, but I finally did! 

During my college years, I also gave 110 percent to my full-time job. After earning my degree, I was promoted to my first professional-level position. This was another turning point in my life, which made me reflect on my failures and successes. I realized my attitude and the choices I made resulted in different outcomes. When I didn’t try, I failed and I didn’t help anyone—not even myself. When I worked to my full potential, I received a promotion and the opportunity to help others.  

Most have heard that having positive attitude and working hard results in positive outcomes, but many aren’t up for the challenge. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t ready either. Are you ready to reach your full potential? If you are, the following points of advice will help guide you on your journey. 

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  • The first and most important step is mind over matter. Do not allow past failures, negative thoughts, or excuses to cause you to give up. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, replace it with a positive thought. Although I am in a different place today, sometimes I still have negative thoughts and I am forced to think positively. 

  • Be true to your commitments. I read a powerful quote recently: “Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” I don’t know who this is attributed to, but it points out that while we often say we are going to do something, we are equally as likely to change our minds when it’s time to do it. If you are committed to going back to school, being on time, and completing tasks, then follow through—even when you don’t feel like it.  

  • Go above and beyond. I have heard co-workers say, “That is not my job.” I was promoted because I mastered the essential functions of the position I wanted before I actually obtained the role. I took the initiative to learn about all the positions in my department. I also didn’t complete tasks for the sake of completing them; I focused on completing tasks correctly and on time.  

  • Accept that you are not perfect. Sometimes we quit after we make a mistake. I have made many mistakes along the way, but I swallowed my pride every time, admitted my error, learned from my mistakes, forgave myself, and tried again. Mistakes happen, and when they occur, they are simply opportunities for you to grow. 

  • Know it is OK to not know everything. Sometimes we don’t attempt to achieve our goals because we don’t have all the answers. I am the co-founder of an organization and manager in my field, but I don’t know everything. I simply admit when I don’t know something, then I seek the answer.  

  • Surround yourself with positive people. Although this is my last point of advice, it is very important. Negative people usually present themselves as victims (for example, they say, “It isn’t my fault,” “They don’t like me,” or “I can’t do it”), while positive people take accountability for their actions. When you surround yourself with positive people, they inspire, encourage, and support you. When you surround yourself with negative people, you adopt their attitude and their way of thinking. This may result in you not reaching your full potential.

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