Exploit Your Potential!

ballerina25There are moments in our lives when we feel as if there is no one to turn to. Or, perhaps, there are people to turn to, but deep within ourselves we know that they would never truly comprehend what we are going through. It’s not always easy to ascertain that which is genuine from that which is fake. It’s rather like lab-created gems. There are many jewels that are the product of a laboratory instead of nature. Yet they appear so authentic that even a jeweler is unable to tell the difference at first glance. These jewels that are “created” by lab technicians are not so different from some people. True caring and compassion are qualities that have always been  rare. But in a world where instant gratification has become more of an addiction than even a habit, authentic individuals are oftentimes scarce.

This is why I stress the importance of always being yourself and of never letting society or the group of people whom you associate with dictate your opinions, your thoughts, or your actions. To a certain extent, you have to exploit yourself  in order to completely embrace life. You must exploit your own potential before anyone else does, for, at the end of your existence here on earth, the person who is going to be left with regrets will be you. The actress Bette Davis once said, “Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.” And Davis demonstrated her steely determination by fighting relentlessly for the roles she got. At her prime, she was the highest paid woman in America, and, during a time when the entertainment industry was dominated by men, Davis set the stage for the powerful leading actresses who have followed in her footsteps such as Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, and Jodie Foster.

In keeping with Bette Davis’ personal motto, what would you attempt to do if you knew with absolute certainty that you simply could not fail? Would the choices you’re making in your life right now be different than they are? If you have any role models or people whom you look up to, whether dead or alive, do you think that they allowed themselves to become overcome with feelings of self-doubt? Or did they live fearlessly?

I have always admired the dancer Isadora Duncan, who dared to be herself both in her career and in her personal life. She was an original, and she was proud of it. It’s true that Isadora did not always use the wisest judgment. But at least she pursued her dreams and made them into a reality by her willingness to take risks and fly in the face of convention. Who wants to conform to what society tells us we should be? In an era when women who had children out-of-wedlock were branded and crucified, Isadora held her head up high and bore two children by two separate lovers. While this lifestyle isn’t something I’m condoning, what I do admire is Isadora’s determination to hold onto her self-respect in a world in which everyone was attempting to take it away from her. Her self-worth was innate and not dependent on anyone else. This is why Isadora followed her heart and married a Russian poet who was eighteen years younger than she was.

Even in today’s much more liberal and open-minded world, much of Isadora’s behavior would be considered reckless.  Yet, are we to only admire those who live by the standards that we hold dear? I think it’s important to find people whom we look up to or who inspire us for different reasons. We should never emulate another person entirely, for, if we do so, then we are cutting short our own uniqueness.

I have been candid about the fact that I believe in God, but even if you don’t, perhaps a part of you still senses that there is a Divine Force at work in the universe. And perhaps you believe that this Divine Force created and molded each of us in a specific way. Whenever we try to be like another person or envy someone else because of his or her special attributes or capabilities, we are negating our own worth. There is positively no way that I can place enough emphasis on embracing that which is exclusively yours. And your potential is your most valuable commodity.

Many people believe that an icon like Madonna is not a role model–that her fame has been centered around the wrong values and principles. However, I think it’s much easier to make judgments about other people and their lives than it is to see ourselves clearly. We attach labels to those whom we do not approve of. Then we wonder why someone decided to label us or our actions in a certain way. Only when we let go of labels and stop being so judgmental will we be free to be ourselves. As I’ve said in other blog posts, we can put ourselves into a prison of our own making if we so choose. That prison can be made up of negative and destructive thoughts such as hate, anger, fear, and resentment. The moment that we allow ourselves to judge another person, we are actually judging ourselves. Rather than focusing on the ways in which someone else falls short in our mind, we should focus instead on how we can improve.

The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Who can be naive or delusional enough to imagine that they can make such an impact on the world that they are able to alter it in a significant way? Although I began my work as the Success Diva with the objective of reaching out to others and making a genuine difference in their lives, I am still aware that unless I pay enough attention to developing myself and exploiting my own potential, I will never accomplish anything meaningful.

Even though the word “exploit” has negative connotations, I am using it in a broader sense to fully embody the idea of using every bit of your potential for all its worth . . . and then some! Opportunities do not always come knocking on the door of your world. Sometimes, you have to seek them. And there are moments when you must grab something that looks like a possibility and make it into the chance of a lifetime.  Never hesitate to take the blessings that are brought into your life. If you do not make use of them, someone else will.

In the Bible, Jesus tells the parable about the talents (in this instance, a talent was a weight of precious metal) a master gave his servants as he was going to leave on a journey. When he returned, the master greatly rewarded the man who had used and multiplied his talents. He was told, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” On the other hand, the unwise servant who had buried the one talent he was given–who had dug a hole in the ground and buried it–had even that taken away by his angry master. Even if you don’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God or anything more than a myth, you can still relate to the concept that that potential which we cultivate. invest, and use is increased rather than diminished.

Life can be like this. For when we allow our potential to drown in the ocean of petty worries and other peoples’ opinions, it is the same as if we never had that potential in the first place. As my friend and mentor, Denis Waitley, says in his book Seeds of Greatness, we have the power within ourselves to achieve virtually anything. “We all have the power within,” Denis writes, in the chapter “The Seed of Purpose”. “There is a potential gold mine inside each of our goals.” What Denis says is true, even if you think it seems hard to believe.

Not only is there a gold mine inside of your goals, but there is a gold mine inside of you. The very fact that you are reading this blog indicates that you have already won. Even at this moment, you are a winner for yov have been brave enough to seek ideas about how you can improve yourself and your life. You have chosen to stop living by default and to begin living on purpose . . . like a boat that has finally found a clear-cut direction.

I have spoken about the Yellow Brick Road that will take you to the Emerald City of your dreams. Well, the path that will take you to that road is strewn with obstacles. There are distractions and day-to-day worries, in addition to people who will attempt to sabotage your efforts, whether they intend to or not.  Even those who are closest to us and claim to have our best interests at heart cannot always be expected to see our dreams and goals for us. You must capture your vision yourself . . . and only you should be the person to exploit your own potential. It’s almost a law of nature that only two options are possible. If we do not exploit our potential, either it goes to waste or someone else will exploit it for us.

I have emphasized the importance of working together as a team and surrounding yourself with those who share similar vantage points to yours. This is crucial if you want to achieve ultimate success or happiness. However, in the end, it still comes down to you making full use of your potential. You cannot ever become entirely dependent on anyone or anything else. You make the magic happen in your life. As I said from the beginning, it really is all about you for no one can live your life for you.

Have you ever seen an episode from the old TV program, “This is Your Life?” If so, do you remember how the most noteworthy moments in the life of whoever happened to be honored were flashed on the screen? Did you ever wonder, “How would my life look if this documentary were about me?” When I was growing up, I recall speculating as to what significant accomplishments might be mentioned. Having been trained to be a concert musician, nearly all of my daydreams, when I was a little girl, included the creation of  award-winning musical recordings and international concert performances. I always had the tendency to dream big, in shades of bright colors, rather than shades of gray or black and white. At this point, it amazes me to remember how grand many of my fantasies were. But, dreaming extravagantly is a wonderful way to prepare you to embrace your potential.

If you do not believe you’re capable of something remarkable, how will you ever attempt it? Claude Bristol’s book The Magic of Believing really does illuminate the importance of believing in yourself unlike nearly any other book I’ve ever read. And what is exploitation of your potential but one more step past believing in yourself? On many occasions, the only true difference between someone who lives a life in obscurity and someone who accomplishes things that bring them a tremendous amount of recognition is belief. I use the word “belief” in its most profound sense for it is something beyond mere self-confidence. It is an innate sense of trust in yourself–faith in your ability to make the most out of your life and to maximize your abilities.

Although we have been conditioned by society and often also by the environment in which we have been reared to subscribe to the idea that our capabilities are limited, we were all born with the capacity to do nearly anything. The depth of the potential that is inherent in each of us is something that many people never become fully cognizant of. For, on a conscious level, it seems impossible to imagine that we can  achieve things that we would call extraordinary if we haven’t seen them being accomplished by those around us. 

When we hear stories of those who have surmounted monumental odds to achieve recognition, renown, and in many instances “celebrity” status, there is sometimes a tendency to tell ourselves that these people were somehow special and set apart from the rest of humanity, whereas we are “ordinary” mortals. In doing this, we are automatically placing limitations on our potential that aren’t really there. Yet, when you subscribe to a false idea for long enough, you will soon begin to imagine that it’s true.  It’s rather like wearing fake diamonds for an extended period of time. After awhile, you may barely be able to ascertain the difference between a real diamond and one that has been created by a lab technician.

So, instead of suppressing your potential by telling yourself lies about what you can’t do, embrace and exploit that potential for all it’s worth. I dedicate this particular blog post to my friend Elizabeth, who first used the phrase, “exploit your potential”. Elizabeth, you are one of those rare persons who lives life fearlessly and is forever true to herself. Thank you for coming into my life.

May you continue to embrace every moment . . . and to live with passion, courage, enthusiasm. . and belief in Yourself!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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If you would like my input on a specific situation or problem in your life, do not hesitate to write me at successdiva7@yahoo.com Alternatively, you can find me as Alexis Wingate at Facebook. Just send me a personal message, and I will respond at my earliest convenience.

This page and all written material at the Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

You are a diamond!

diamond3I’ve continued to emphasis that you should be yourself—that is, that being comfortable in your own skin is essential to achieving ultimate fulfillment and success. I still stand by this statement, but a new concept has come to me during the past week or so that I want to share with you. To be at peace with who you are doesn’t mean that you can’t re-invent yourself. That is, just  because you don’t want to be someone other than you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work at becoming a completely new and better you. When a diamond is taken out of a mine, does it look anything like the diamonds you see under a glass case at the jewelry store? Of course, it doesn’t. Actually, it looks like a plain, unattractive rock. Well, what if no one had ever decided to polish up one of those rocks? What would have happened? Am I making a point? Every one of us is like that diamond before it gets polished up and put into a necklace, ring, or set of earrings. Usually, we’re fortunate if even half of the polishing has been done by the time we reach middle age. However, if we don’t at least make up our minds to strive towards being that brilliant, faceted diamond, we’re never going to tap into our true potential. Now, are you ready to get rid of those rough edges and begin the process towards becoming a glistening gemstone? I know I am. I will caution you, however. There are going to be a lot of people who will fight you on your way towards turning yourself into a faceted jewel. They’ll try to tell you that, no matter what you do, you’re always going to be a jagged, old rock.  They may even discourage you with stories of their own about changes they tried to make that didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. . .or the way they hoped they would. Listen, let me tell you something that you need to never forget: change first takes place in the mind. In other words, you need to really ascertain whether or not these people who try to hold you back by offering depressing tales of discouragement and disappointment ever wanted to make changes in their lives in the first place. Isn’t it even remotely possible that they were blocked by fear? Might they not have been afraid of failure or afraid of accepting responsibility for certain aspects of their lives. . .or even (now don’t be too shocked!) afraid of success?? “Afraid of success,” you exclaim. “Now you’ve gone too far, Success Diva! Who in their right mind would be afraid of success?” I know the concept of being fearful of success may sound ludicrous, but it’s actually very real. For one thing, once you start accomplishing some of your goals, certain things about your life are going to change. Just to give one example, friends may start to distance themselves from you. In fact, your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend may start to feel threatened. Moreover, your family could express resentment, masked as concern for your well-being and/or your future. “We just don’t know if you’ll be able to handle all these new responsibilities,” they may tell you. “You’ve always been sensitive,  you know, and it could be too much for you.” How do you handle such well-meaning advice? Well, thank whoever it is who has given it to you with a smile, and then forget you ever heard it. Remember what I told you about Renoir and how the master teacher asked if he was merely “dabbling in paints” early on in his career? That isn’t the only instance in which a person who went on to achieve magnificent things was discouraged by someone whose advice should have been able to be relied upon. I cannot help but think of actress Jessica Lange, who was told that she would never be pretty enough to be a successful Hollywood leading lady. And look at Bette Davis, who had to fight studios tooth and nail to get good roles. Her fellow actress, Geraldine Fitzgerald, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1930s film adaptation of Emily Bronte’s _Wuthering Heights_ didn’t have Bette’s gumption. She wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to get a big break. I believe I remember Bette saying that she was too ladylike and passive to be the kind of gusty dame that would shake things up to get a part she could really sink her teeth into. Well, what are you going to be? Passive or passionate? Are you going to pursue your goals halfheartedly, or are you going to get fired up about the things you want to achieve in your life?? Which is it going to be?

I can tell you one thing, and even though it may sound like I am exaggerating, I’m not. If you’re waiting for others to crowd around you offering their support and encouragement, you may never get started on your journey of success and self-fulfillment. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have some marvelous people on my Success Diva team, not everyone is so blessed. Depending on what your goals are and who you’ll be fighting to make them a reality, you must be prepared for detractors and naysayers. There are going to be more people fighting you in the enemy camp than there will ever be on your side. But you know what your aim is—to turn your rough edges into brilliantly polished facets, so that you’ll be a radiant diamond instead of a rough rock. If you ever lose sight of your aim, you will never accomplish your goals. Now I’m not talking about a day every now and then in which you experience moments or even hours of discouragement. No, I’m talking about weeks or months when you allow yourself to take your eyes off your goals and instead let yourself be distracted by people and/or circumstances that are destructive to your ultimate purpose. “My purpose?” you echo. “I never thought about having a purpose. Are you talking about something religious?” Indeed, I’m not talking about anything the least bit religious. To have a purpose in your life is no different than a filmmaker having a purpose in a film he creates. It’s also no different than Angelina Jolie having a purpose in all the philanthropic work she does. Do you think that she simply adopted the children she’s added to her family on a whim?? Of course, she didn’t. You know better than that. It wouldn’t even make sense. Had she done that, it would have been no different than her purchasing a new car or a designer piece of jewelry. No, Angelina Jolie’s purpose in adopting each child was to give that child a life that he/she wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. She is providing both the necessities for each child, in addition to privileges that only a star of her magnitude could offer. Although she doesn’t spoil her children by giving them things they don’t need and/or wouldn’t appreciate, she does give them plenty of love and affection. However, if she hadn’t had a purpose behind all her efforts, she would not be accomplishing all that she is. We can shrug or sigh all we want when words like “purpose” and “goals” are mentioned, but, whether we like it or not, the life of our dreams cannot be created without both goals and a clearly defined purpose. Do you know what it is that you truly want out of life? If you’ve already got a wonderful partner and/or a lovely family, what else would  you need in your life to be completely content? Think about it. And, if you don’t yet have a partner or a family, would you need to have one or both to be fulfilled? These are all things you need to decide for yourself. Your diva can only share her input and ideas with you—it isn’t her responsibility to write down your dreams for you.

Last year, I went through a period of time in which I wrote down 20 or 25 lifetime goals. . .or maybe it was 50 lifetime goals. The journal I wrote these things down in is lost amid a stack of other books somewhere in my bedroom, but I do know that I took the time to at least figure out what most of my goals were. There’s a good chance that a few of these goals will now be different, although I would imagine that most of them are still the same. I know that one of my goals was inspiring and encouraging others, and I also know that I started my first success blog sometime last fall. So, why didn’t I keep it up? Well, I tend to think that there’s a “right” time for everything. I’m not saying that there’s ever a “right” time for some things, such as the crises that all of us experience at one time or another. But I do think that we have to be at a certain point in our lives before we can commit ourselves to specific endeavors. I wasn’t ready to commit myself to being a diva of success last September. The desire was there, but I think the genuine passion and enthusiasm I needed to make things really happen was missing. Have you ever heard of what’s called “movers and shakers”? Do you know what a “mover and shaker” is? No, it’s not someone who dances really well *wink*. Rather, it’s somebody who decides to take an active role in life, rather than a passive role. It’s somebody who makes the choice not to merely sit on the sidelines and let life happen to him/her, but rather, who makes up his/her mind to make life happen. Sure, there are tons of things that we cannot control about the world. But our life is ours, and we do have power over ourselves and over the choices that we make. From the moment we were born, we were always a diamond in the rough. It’s up to us, though, how long we remain that rough diamond. If we decide that we’re tired of having to look in the mirror at a rugged rock, then we will start making definitive changes immediately. In fact, we’ll probably even get to the point where we start to realize which people and/or influences are beneficial to us without having to spend much time considering it. One of my good friends was just telling me about how inclined she is to justify behavior on the part of others that is inconsiderate or unkind. I couldn’t help but relate to her as I think that anyone who has a generous and forgiving heart finds it easy to make excuses for other people. However, if you don’t make the decision to stop justifying other peoples’ mistreatment of you, you aren’t ever going to be happy or fulfilled. Rather, you’ll end up feeling betrayed, rejected, and lonely. You’ll wonder if there is anyone around whom you can turn to and/or anyone whom you can trust. Indeed, in the long run, your forgiving spirit will make you a bit cynical about life. Because you allowed people to remain in your world who continued hurting you, you’ll start putting barriers up whether you intend to or not. And then, when someone comes along who is worthy of your friendship and/or your love, you may not be open to receiving their affection and acceptance. I have spoken more than once about guarding your heart. What I may not have made clear is that it, in addition to it being an essential part of being happy, it is also an essential part of being successful. If you are experiencing emotional pain and turmoil because you are letting yourself be mistreated, you are not going to be able to pursue your own desires with any genuine enthusiasm. Why? Well, what I’ve noticed is that cruel, unkind, and/or critical people steal your joy from you. When they get finished turning your heart inside out and making you feel like most of your opinions and/or ideas are without value or meaning, you aren’t going to even believe that you have it in you to be a success. You’ll probably decide that you simply must content yourself with being a diamond in the rough for the rest of  your life. Or, even better, you’ll look upon yourself as an ugly, old rock, rather than a rock that would even be capable of being transformed into a jewel. I know you may not think you can do it, but you simply must get rid of every person in your life who is preventing you from being happy and from believing in yourself. The only people who cannot be entirely removed from your existence are close family members, such as children, siblings, and parents. But even with them, you can create a psychological barrier. What does this mean? Well, while listening to them tell you what you can or can’t do, rather than really hearing what they’re saying, you will be choosing to focus on the faith you have in yourself instead. Although it often seems like someone can make us feel worthless, the truth is, we have to give them permission to diminish our sense of self-worth. So, next time you hear a person tell you, “You know you’ll never be able to do that,” or “Well,  you haven’t done it yet. What makes you think you’ll ever be able to?”. Negate their words by telling yourself, “I know I can do anything that I commit myself to because I have unlimited potential.” Even if you feel silly telling yourself something like this at first, after awhile you will automatically begin thinking in these terms. And, once you do, you are on your way to becoming that sparkling diamond that you know you can be.

So, make each moment of today count, and pursue your dreams passionately, not passively!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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All written material on this page and at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva