“They are the ones who bring meaning to our lives, who happen to inspire, who spark a fire that we carry with us for the rest of our days, who are but pillars of hope and sometimes sacrifice, life-changers, life-savers, catalysts.” ― Chirag Tulsiani
Think back. Do you remember a time when someone saw something special in you that you didn’t? They watched for what was hidden from your view and the world, and let you know what they saw. It felt good.
It was just the beginning. Potential signals latent talent, and unless it’s acted upon, it can wither and die.
As a leader if you are intentional about watching for potential in others, you can also take that next step and guide them to using their hidden talents. That is all you can do as they must make the choice to bring it forth.
But you just might be the spark that moves and inspires people to step out and use those hidden talents if they are willing. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences leaders have, to observe potential and guide someone to reach and sometimes exceed it. Begin here:
Being aware: In order to observe potential, you have to be looking for it. It’s easy to be critical, to have your opinions of someone’s potential clouded over by focusing on what they aren’t good at. But what they aren’t doing well today has nothing to do with what they can be tomorrow. Pay attention, and become more attuned to future possibility in others; you just might find it.
Letting them know: Don’t just observe them, let them know what you see. It might be that nobody has ever observed their potential before. Be specific in describing exacting what you’ve noticed. This is the beginning of the spark that will inspire them to move into action.
Guiding them: The potential that you see may be realized if you can coach and guide them. This is tricky, since it’s not about how you want things done, it’s about the action steps that they have passion for. Meet on a regular basis and use inquiry and deep listening to help them to be well guided in their pursuit.
Stretching them: Most people who are engaged in using their talents and have a vision of their potential can be stretched beyond what they think they are capable of. Make sure you provide plenty of challenges, encouragement, and kudos to those who are working to achieve their potential.
Detaching from your expectations: A precautionary note: you might be a positive force for them. You might have your own vision for what their future looks like, but they need to achieve the future they see on their own. It may not be exactly to your wishes but their future belongs to them. Make sure you don’t interfere too much with advice or express disappointment in the way they are going about it. Detaching from your expectations and accepting theirs can prevent a lot of suffering and grief for both of you.
Great leaders spark us by seeing the potential in other that they may not see. Are you looking for it? When you find it, are you guiding and stretching them?