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Strengths and talents – Discover your potential

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We each possess skills and abilities that nobody else possesses quite like we do. We are all gifted with unique strengths and talents, whether this is a talent for display on the world stage, or on a small stage as someone who makes a difference to just a few other people. So how do we make the most of our personal potential? By creating the right mindset. Here are some of the key features of the maximising potential mindset.

Happiness and Goals

Philosophers since Aristotle have linked happiness with the attainment of goals. That is why we find so much satisfaction when we reach our goals and happiness in the work that takes us there. For many people however, life is unhappy and unfulfilled. Daniel Yankelovich carried out extensive research into how people felt about their workplace achievements. 8 out of 10 people admitted that they could do much better. In a study by the California State University, Fullerton, 80% of people wished they were in a different job than the one they were in In a University of Michigan study, more than one in four employees surveyed said they were so unhappy with the products they made at work that they wouldn’t use them themselves.

Unique Talents

It is the mix of talents and other factors which produces potential. Potential can be regarded as the sum of talent, personality, will power, self-belief, drive and ambition, circumstances, opportunities and positive thinking.

“If a man has a talent and cannot use it, he has failed, If he has a talent and uses only half of it he has partly failed. If he has a talent and learns somehow to use the whole of it, he has gloriously succeeded and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.” (Thomas Wolfe)

The studies of self-development writers tell us that every single one of us possesses talents in some form or another. Our talents do not depend on background, upbringing, social class, job, ability or disability; hence the belief that they are divinely gifted. None of us possesses a greater or lesser talent than any other person. It is their use and application which distinguishes the so-called “talented” from the so-called “less-talented”.


In our days of super-states, super-nations and super-organisations with cradle-to-grave care and dependency cultures, it is easy to adopt the view that it is up to others to manage our own self-development. After all, maximising employee potential results in self-motivated employees; employees who achieve more; people who learn more and can apply more: all valuable benefits for the organisation. But, as Chris Argyris of the Harvard Business School has pointed out, the natural inclination of organisations, particularly the large ones with the larger resources, is against the kind of people self-development produces. The conclusion is that self-development is a do-it-yourself skill and a do-it-yourself activity.

The Essentials of Self-Development

  • Potential is the possibilities we each have inside us to perform to our maximum capability.
  • We all have unique talents not possessed by anyone else.
  • It is the way that talents are developed and used that distinguishes the so-called “talented” from other people.
  • What we can achieve in life is a blend of talents, drive, circumstances, skill, luck and positive self-belief.
  • Self-development is a do-it-yourself skill and a do-it-yourself activity.
  • If an organization wants to develop its staff, it cannot treat them as immature people.

Maximising Your Potential

If you want to learn more about the nature of self-development and how you can find your unique talents, read “Maximising Your Potential” written by Eric Garner.

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