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What’s Your Potential? How to Know It and Grow It

Originally an article on Oprah.com

what's your potential
You know that expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same?”

Well, Aristotle thought of it first.

A great philosophical thinker, writer and teacher, Aristotle believed that the universe is in a state of constant motion, always changing, always evolving.

However, at the same time, there is one thing that remains a constant in everything—what he called entelechy or one’s essential potential.

Aristotle believed that everything on this planet possesses its own entelechy, or as he coined it, “having one’s end within.” Entelechy is a vital force that motivates and guides an organism toward self-fulfillment.

Consider the mighty oak tree. Its journey to greatness begins with a small acorn seed. Of course, the seed has to go through certain changes and stages of development in order to reach its full potential, but the potential is a constant: to become an oak tree. You will never see an acorn become a petunia plant, an umbrella or a pizza.

According to Aristotle, there is always a reason for everything that happens. Your experiences are designed to shape you, define you and, hopefully, grow you into the mightiest you possible.

Is it just coincidence that the trees that endure the stormiest winds grow the strongest trunks and branches? Doubtful when you consider that the trees grown in more windless environs tend to be more fragile, twiggy and weak.

You too can use adversity to grow into your mightiest self. What Aristotle called nous poetikos—which roughly translates as conscious insight—is a fabulously unique human perk, if you choose to consciously tap into it. With conscious insight, you will find that you bend more easily with the stormy winds instead of angrily resisting the things that want to blow you over.

You know that nasty break up you endured? You can choose to lovingly rename the experience “The break up that led to the breakdown that led to the breakthrough!”

In other words, what may have at first seemed deflating, frustrating or painful can be experienced with conscious insight as an empowering growth opportunity breakthrough. After all, there is a reason for everything you find on your journey.

So here’s the great news—you are guaranteed a happier life if you consistently choose to tap into conscious insight by keeping your life end goal in mind—to become your mightiest self.

Of course, when things are going badly, there is always a tempting urge to shut down and shut off, to give in and give up, to get bitter, resentful, angry, spiteful, depressed, self-destructive and antisocial—all before breakfast!

When I want to shut down, I think of a horror movie I once saw. These unconscious, soulless zombies were miserably going around taking bites out of all the happy, alive, soulful people. It wasn’t long before the soulful people were zombies too!

The only way to survive being surrounded by soulless zombies is to use conscious insight to resist them! To become your highest, mightiest self, you must choose conscious insight and remain focused on being a good, loving, soulful person.

Fact: Bad things—and bad people—happen to everyone on this planet.

Fact: You cannot control much of what happens in life. Life is a lively fusion of free will merged with destiny.

Fact: Free will gives you the choice to tap into conscious insight and become your mightiest self. With it, you can morph all your pain into all your gain and make your tormentors your mentors—turning all your struggles into valuable lessons that help you grow strong.

So when times get tough, think of Aristotle. And don’t forget those zombies! Conscious insight is the most powerful growth formula you have to nurture your potential seed for growth. Use your entelechy—and believe in your soul’s path—so you will grow into your mightiest self!


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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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