The Truth About Potential: Guest Post by Carlos Miceli

This is a guest post by Carlos Miceli. He is a young Argentinian that likes to question everything.

Editor's Note: Carlos is one of the most charming, friendly, intelligent and engaging people I have met on Twitter, and English isn't even his first language! I am thrilled to share his work on my blog.


"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What do people mean when they say that someone "has potential"? What do they see in someone when they say that person will "get far," whatever that means? Is it about having innate and undeniable abilities, like intelligence and charisma, that make an impact? Or is it about people betting on and predicting your future based on superficial first impressions?

The thing about potential is that it is never precise. Bosses, friends and acquaintances see people with potential as having "a bright future," but it is often based more on gut instinct than anything else. Because there is no way to be sure - to know exactly how good a person will be, or what life decisions he or she will make. No way of telling how much of their potential will be fulfilled.

When you think about getting places, it is not potential that matters. It is capacity. It is your capacity that will give you results if you put it to work. But other people don't always know what you are capable of, so they assign you a predicted level of "potential." And until they really get to know you, the level of potential they see in you is a guessing game.

You have more control over other people's impressions of your potential than you think. Why does it matter? Because if they think you have potential, they will support you. They will mentor you, fight for you, and give you opportunities.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "fake it until you make it." No matter what your capacity or level of experience is, if you can show potential, doors will start opening for you.

So how do you show potential? By standing out, being different. Sound hard? I'll go out on a limb and say it's actually easy. Really easy. These are my personal tips:

  • Be inquisitive. Ask questions. Lots of them. This is "Standing Out 101" since most people don't do this. Asking means "I don't know everything, but I want to." It shows ambition, which helps demonstrate your potential. Some people will be happy to answer your questions, and will be glad to have met you and supported you. Others will be resentful; they are the ones who you will probably leave behind faster.
  • Be controversial, wisely. When you think differently about something that everyone else agrees with, take a risk and speak up! Be open and leave room for being wrong, but be vocal too. Being willing to speak up when you are the odd-one-out is a huge step towards showing potential, because it forces people to notice you, to listen to you. But be ready to lose the argument; remember, it's not about being right, it's about standing out.
  • Be confident! Stand up for your uniqueness. For people to bet on you, they must believe in you. And they won't if you don't believe in yourself. Being confident is another way of saying "I'm a sure bet."
  • Be a rockstar. Go above and beyond what is asked of you. Be an essential part of the team. But don't try to be the PERFECT employee, because being perfect means fitting in perfectly. You can't stand out without having an edge. Putting yourself out there. Doing things differently.
  • Be unique. It's not up to me to define what is unique or not. Maybe writing poetry, maybe dancing salsa, maybe having a blog. Having a life outside of your mainstream activities will make people ask questions about you, therefore creating the mystery that makes you stand out. Potential is all about making people wonder about you, in a good way.

When you are alone, thinking about succeeding in life, always remind yourself that you have to give your best, that you CAN get where you want to, and that you are the master of your life. But when it comes to potential and people's opinions of you, market yourself accordingly. "Godinize yourself." Live on the edges. Be weird. Because being weird kicks ass.