Disclaimer: This newsletter isn’t about your religious or spiritual beliefs. Those are yours alone, and I would never challenge anyone’s beliefs in this area, nor would I want mine challenged. This newsletter is about your life and what you are going to do with it. Ready?
The greatest sin is not living up to your full potential. It’s the sin of squandering the gifts that you have been given, of wasting them.
There are dozens of reasons one may waste their gifts and not live up to their full potential, but here are the two I can point to most often: 1) a too small vision of yourself and what you are capable of, and 2) fear of being uncomfortable or making others uncomfortable (settling).
A Too Small Vision
On April 20th (4/20), I thought about my friend, Jimmy. He was a tremendous athlete in grade school and high school. He would have gone to college on a football scholarship, but he fell in love with pot. He became a burnout, and he never lived up to his potential. Once he started hanging around the drug culture, they helped him install a very small vision of himself.
I tell you this story because a good part of your vision of what you are capable of is installed by the people around you, just like software is installed on your smart phone. Without meaning to, you can become a sort of average of your surroundings, settling for what others have settled for, even without recognizing that you have done so.You can decide that what you are now is the most that you can hope to be, even though you know you are capable of becoming far more than you are now (regardless of your age or other circumstances).
Making Others Uncomfortable
At a relatively young age, I shunned the tribe of which I was a member. I wasn’t into the drugs, the alcohol, or the parties. Even though I was only about 19 years old, I wanted to work, to progress, to compete. Many of my friends did not want what I wanted, and I started to distance myself from them. I started to make them feel uncomfortable. If I wouldn’t hang out and party with them, they became self-conscious, believing my refusal to hang was an indictment of their behavior, that I was judging them. In fact, I was judging them, and it made them uncomfortable.
They attacked me, accusing me of pretending to be better than them. To protect themselves, they tried to pull me into their world, so that they could feel better about their own decisions. I had raised my standard and my vision of myself, and it made them uncomfortable. If I am being honest, it hurt them.
As difficult as it is to believe, you might avoid living up to your full potential because you fear success. Your success might make the people around you feel uncomfortable or jealous. They might think you’ve changed, and because they fear losing you, they may be unhappy with your success. Rather than help them feel certain you aren’t abandoning them, you hold back.
Maybe you are afraid of your own voice. You might be embarrassed because you are afraid of other people judging you. You might doubt yourself, so you withhold your gift.
Or maybe you are afraid of failure. It could be that you believe that a failure would define you, that it would be an identity and not simply an event. Maybe you believe that you couldn’t recover.
Be More, Do More, Have More, Contribute More
You know that you can be more, do more, have more, and make a far greater contribution than you are right now. The greatest sin is not doing your very best to use the gifts you have been given.
You were given this life for a purpose. You are here for a reason. Your vision of yourself needs to match that purpose, and you need to be uncomfortable with other people being uncomfortable, and you need to be uncomfortable being uncomfortable yourself.
If you think about what you are really capable of, what does that vision of yourself look like?
If you reflect on what you are supposed to be doing, what part of that makes you and uncomfortable and why?
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Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next week!
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