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Maximizing Your Potential by Definition

Someone once pointed out to me that in many of my presentations focusing on my theme, Maximizing Your Potential, I did not define potential specifically. Allow me to do so now.

Whenever I refer to potential and how to make the best of it, I'm referring to the God-given abilities, skills, and talents we have. Specifically, our skills fall into three categories, and only three. There are those we use with people, those we use with things, and those we use with information.

A. Borrowing from Mr. Richard Nelson Bolles' book, What Color Is Your Parachute?, here are 13 basic skills we use with people:

Speaking or listening to others so as to convey or receive information. (Communicating)

Influencing others by our words or actions. (Persuading)

Showing sensitivity to the feelings of others. (Sensing)

Favoring the implicit or explicit needs of others. (Serving)

Caring for others by using specified techniques or approaches to improve their physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual problem. (Treating)

Giving expert advice or recommendations based on our own area of expertise. (Advising)

Paying attention to instructions and then carrying out the prescribed action. (Taking instructions)

Monitoring behavior and coordinating it in order to achieve organizational objectives. (Managing/Supervising)

Recognizing and utilizing the skills of others. (Leading)

Arriving at an individual or jointly agreed-upon decision usually through discussion and compromise. (Negotiating/deciding)

Exhibiting showmanship for fun, laughter, or entertainment. (Entertaining/Amusing)

Dealing with the problems of others in the context of their total self while helping them to identify and resolve them through self-directed action. (Counseling)

Giving new information or ideas to people through lecture, demonstration, or practice. (Training)

B. When it comes to dealing with information, we use our skills 15 different ways. Here they are:

We investigate, detect, compile, and classify information by means of research. (Researching)

We examine two or more people or objects in order to learn about and react to their similarities and dissimilarities. (Comparing)

We study the behavior of people, animals, or things, or the details of a particular phenomenon or place. (Observing)

We perceive and define cause-and-effect relations. (Analyzing)

We deal with numbers in performing simple or complex arithmetic. (Computing)

We give a definite structure and working order to things. (Organizing)

We inspect, diagnose, test, and evaluate information, people, or things. (Evaluating)

We take what others have developed and apply it to new situations often in a new form. (Improving/adapting)

We transform apparently unrelated things or ideas by forming them into a new cohesive whole. (Creating)

We fashion or shape things. (Designing)

We conceive shapes or sounds by perceiving their patterns and structures and we enable others to see them, too. (Visualizing)

We record, memorize, or reproduce on paper or in the mind. (Copying, Storing, Retrieving)

We determine the sequence of tasks after reviewing pertinent data or requirements. (Planning, Developing)

We systematically accomplish tasks in a manner that causes objectives to be attained or surpassed. (Achieving)

We speed up the accomplishment of a task or series of tasks so as to reach an organizational objective on or ahead of time. (Expediting)

C. Finally, let's look at the skills we use with things. We do so by:

using our body as an instrument of accomplishment. (Being athletic)

using our hands or body to identify or move an object. (Handling)

manipulating hand tools. (Using Tools)

monitoring, adjusting, and servicing automatic machines. (Minding Machines)

performing some or all operations upon an office, shop, or other machine or equipment. (Operating Machine or Equipment)

performing some or all operations upon a vehicle. (Operating a Vehicle)

putting materials into or taking them out of machines. (Feeding, Emptying Machines)

using earth as an instrument of accomplishment. (Working with Earth and Nature)

preparing, building, installing, and displaying machinery or equipment. (Setting Up Displays, Machinery, or Equipment)

attaining precise set of limits, tolerance, or standards. (Precision Working)

putting an object back into good working condition or similar to its original condition. (Preparing)

I encourage you to inventory the skills that have brought you success and satisfaction. Then look for creative ways to emphasize them. When you do, you'll be maximizing your potential.

Remember: When you maximize your potential, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.

Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in ezines, newsletters, and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Although advance permission is not required, please notify us at when you use this article.

Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, conducts seminars, lectures, and writes articles on his theme: ... helping you maximize your potential. He offers management, marketing, and parenting resources at


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