Where’s the line that defines your potential?
By Pete Hall
For decades, I’ve lived my life according to a very simple mantra: Always strive to be a better you. I’ve included it in my email signature since email became a thing. I used it to title my most recent book. The phrase, and the philosophy, is based on the ancient Greek principle of paideia, which held that the goal of life is to attain one’s ultimate potential.

The interesting this about potential is that it’s an asymptote. My high school geometry teacher, Mr. Jackson, first introduced the concept of an asymptote to me: It’s a line that you approach but never intersect. In this way of thinking, the closer you get to your potential, the more your potential expands. The result is the lack of an upper limit – there’s no ceiling, no boundary, only limitless growth and the opportunity for expansion.

What if your ultimate potential had no maximum value? Can you imagine the possibilities?

This philosophy can live in every aspect of our lives. Think about this: is there anything in your life that you’ve completely mastered? Anything that you could not possibly learn more about, perform better or more efficiently, or somehow improve? I didn’t think so.

What we’re left with is the quest for improvement, continuous growth, neverending progress. The pursuit of “er.” You know: better, stronger, faster, happier, healthier…that list is endless.

“Always strive to be a better you” is a mindset. When we’re conscious of our desire to improve, we intentionally think about how that improvement might occur, and we behave accordingly.

We envision our future selves working to accomplish something, to gain something, to grow somehow, and we either believe we can do it or not. Our brains are the most powerful influence on our actions, our trajectory, and our success.

Let me pause for a second to ask you a couple of provocative questions: Do you have to see something in order to believe it? Does it have to happen in order for you to believe it can happen? Have you ever told yourself, “I’ll never be able to do that” simply because you haven’t done it before?

When those thoughts invade your head, go ahead and respond as the Dread Pirate Roberts said to Buttercup outside the fire swamp in The Princess Bride: “Nonsense. You’re just saying that because no one ever has.”

Case in point: Up until May 6, 1954, no one in history had ever run a mile in under four minutes. That threshold was considered physically impossible. For centuries, mile times had been recorded, performances analyzed, and a conclusion was drawn: despite exceptionally fit people running as fast as possible, the human body could never withstand the strain of running at that pace for an entire mile. We had assigned an artificial ceiling to our potential. 4:00? No way.

Enter Roger Bannister. He clocked a mile in under 4 minutes. Blew us away. Then it happened again. And again. And it’s happened so many times now, we don’t even keep track any more. Roger believed it could happen, then he went out and did it. He didn’t allow the limits to confine his performance.

What upper boundaries have you constructed for yourself? What goals have you set aside, because, “I could never do that,” or “That’s not possible for me,” or some such defeatist thinking? What goals do you truly have for yourself? What is something you’d like to improve upon? What “er” might you be pursuing?

Are you ready to open your mind to the limitlessness of your potential? Embrace your asymptote! Relish in the possibility that you’re capable of accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. Then take a step – because that simple action can put you one step closer to your goals.

That’s how you always strive to be a better you.

Pete Hall is the President/CEO of Strive Success Solutions. You can reach him via email at Pete@StriveSS.com.

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