How to Unlock Hidden Potential – Part 2
by Thomas Hadley
Blood, sweat and tears. You put your all into your craft. What happens when all your efforts still end in defeat? How does one find and unlock hidden potential in defeat? What good is there in it? Earlier this year, Super Bowl XLVIII set the best teams from each conference against each other. The final score: Seattle Seahawks 43 – Denver Broncos 8. What good resulted from this defeat for the Denver Broncos?
In last week’s post, I discussed finding potential in adversity. There are many types of adversity we face in life. Defeat is one of them. Where is the hidden potential in this particular type of adversity? Many great athletes hate losing more than they love winning. Their hatred of defeat seems to be stronger than their appetite for victory (I used to be that way). Oftentimes, that is looked upon as a good thing. However, this level of hatred toward defeat is counterproductive. Of course, we are not looking to lose in any area of life, whether it be in business, sports, or even a game of monopoly. But let’s face it, it is a part of every area of life if we are constantly seeking to improve ourselves.
So where is potential hidden in defeat? I think that there are a lot of hidden gems we can take away from it. Napoleon Hill states over and over in all his writings, “Every adversity brings with it a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.” Here are some of the areas where this potential is stored:
What potential is stored in these areas?
In this, I will include awareness that increases knowledge of ourselves and our abilities. How is it possible to become our very best if we never experience defeat? We’ve all probably seen great coaches rebuke their teams even after winning a game simply because they were not giving their all in the win. So we know that winning isn’t everything. Doing our very best IS everything. When our very best still isn’t enough to win in competition, at least we know that the problem isn’t effort. Many times, we learn more from our losses than we do from our wins. Facing defeat means that we were not able to match wits or strength with our opponent. Knowing where we fell short helps us become more aware of personal growth needed. The challenge is that we can get emotional due to losses. This prevents us from observing nonjudgmentally what happened – what caused the loss. When we are able to look nonjudgmentally at our losses, we will have clarity to see how we need to grow emotionally, mentally or physically in order to perform better. We also gain awareness of what abilities need sharpening from a skills perspective. But sometimes, skill is not the problem. It is our emotions that drive our performance and allow us to employ the appropriate maneuvers in any kind of “competition,” whether these maneuvers be mental (in business or sales negotiations, for example) or physical.
Potential Stored in Self-Awareness: Visibility of needed changes
When I observe undefeated athletes like Floyd Mayweather, I always have this question: What is he really made of? When I look at a football team that has gone undefeated for a good portion of the season, I get a little concerned. The reason I feel these things is that I am not sure how they would bounce back from a loss. Some individuals or organizations are “front runners.” When things are going well, they do well emotionally and will continue to fight hard. But when they experience defeat, they have a hard time learning from the loss and bouncing back emotionally. Experiencing defeat give us the opportunity to develop this resiliency. If you never lose, how do you know what you are made of?
Potential Stored in Resiliency: Emotional buffer against drain that commonly accompanies defeat
When I was in high school, I competed on my high school’s weightlifting team. I set the goal to become the Florida state weightlifting champion. I had a good freshman competition year by becoming the first freshman in the history of our high school to make it to the state finals. At that point, I thought I had a chance to actually win if I lost weight and dropped down to a lower weight class. When it came to the day of the competition, I failed miserably. I lost too much weight to try to compete at the lower weight class and lost all of my strength. I came in last place in the competition. I was humiliated. However, from that point, I studied everything I could get my hands on that was related to peak performance – nutrition, kinesiology, sport psychology, etc. I learned more as a result of that loss than I would have had I won the competition. I used this knowledge to redesign my entire training program. When we face defeat, we are forced to go back to the drawing board with our current knowledge-base and add to it. And, yes, after two more years of “defeats” at the hand of competitors that came out of the woodwork, I finally accomplished my goal of winning the state title.
Potential Stored in Knowledge: Resource to create better and better strategies and plans
Perseverance is “to continue in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition or discouragement.” This may be the area that contains the most potential of all areas mentioned here. In defeat, we are pushed to our greatest emotional limits. Some say that Barry Sanders may have been the most talented running back to ever play professional football. However, after a very short career, he retired (in large part) due to discouragement caused by being on a losing team year in and year out. When we replace the “Quit Response” with the “Persevere Response,” there is no limit to what we can do. The motivational speaker, Les Brown, said,
“I’ve lost a lot of deals. That’s okay. I’ve made a lot. But I’ve lost more deals…. I get more rejections. If you get close to me, there’s a callous on my ear. It looks like a mole. I’ve made over 100 cold calls in a day to convince people to bring me in. “Who are you?” “My name is Les Brown.” “Do you have any experience?” “No, I don’t. But if you will let me work for you, I’ll work real hard. I’ll have you as a client that will brag about me.” “Oh no. You let us know when you do it for somebody, okay.” “Yes, I will.” Calling, calling, calling, calling. Finally somebody said “Yes.” Write this down: “You will win if you don’t quit.”
Perseverance is like a muscle. The more we develop it, the stronger it gets. We will not only have the ability to persevere in the areas in which we have faced defeat time and time again, but we will also have the strength of perseverance for every other area of life as well. I believe that what separates those who finally win from those who never do is action. Perseverance gives you the strength to “show up”. Once you show up, you can take action. I heard someone say, “With action, everything is possible. Without action, nothing is possible.” Isn’t that what we are talking about? “Potential” is all about possibility. What you do with the potential you find here is all up to you.
Potential Stored in Perseverance: Provides unlimited emotional energy for ACTION!
Okay. Great, we have identified a few of the areas of hidden potential you can find in defeat. You may be asking, “What do I do next?” It is quite simple. But first, let’s revisit Napoleon Hill’s quote from last week:
“Start each day with an expression of gratitude for all the adversities, defeats, and failures you have experienced in the past, and search for the seed of an equivalent benefit these have yielded you through the passing of time.”
Here is a simple and practical way to “search for the seed” of benefits you have received from your defeats. In terms of your current endeavors, think about the increase in potential you would most benefit from RIGHT NOW as you look at the following:
As you identify that area, make a decision to look at a specific past significant defeat through that lens. Create a list in your success journal of what seeds of benefit you have gained in the area of potential as a direct result of that defeat. From the moment you identify these seeds of benefit, you will never view these defeats the same again. Not only so, but you will have increased your performance capacity in every area of life. Once you complete this exercise, do the same with any other significant defeats you have faced.
As I said at the very beginning, no one is looking to experience defeat in any area of life. But if you apply what you’ve learned here, you will have a response to defeat that will lead you to unlock greater potential within yourself. I don’t know how the players on the Denver Broncos are processing their defeat. But you have a few tools you can use to help you maximize your potential from any past or present defeats. Armed with this knowledge, your appetite for victory will be far greater than your hatred for defeat. So take the time to re-examine your past defeats and UNLOCK YOUR HIDDEN POTENTIAL!
Next week, I will share some thoughts on how to unlock the hidden potential in failure.