Intentional Leader: Seeing Potential in Others

12 Oct


Week 2

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe may have been a learned German writer, artist and politician in the late 1700’s, but his quote to the left brings to mind the importance of relationships and guiding the potential of people that you come into contact with. This week’s Intentional Leader work is Seeing Potential in Others had me reflect on who and how people believe in me, my own beliefs regarding solid relationships, the cultivation of potential in someone I know and finally what qualities I admire in the people that I work with.

What do people see in me?

Personally I see that my parents have always believed in my abilities, nurtured my talents and challenged my thoughts. Although they have had more of a direct influence during my formative schooling years, they continue to have a positive influence on my roles as a wife, mother, teacher and community member. They are my life coaches, active listeners, advice givers, direct communicators, etc. If they had not believed in my potential I certainly would not have had the many enriching opportunities and rich experiences. While growing up I was involved in sports and educational pursuits (to keep it simple). I had the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world. I also pursued my first two university degrees (B.A. in France and B.Ed. in Canada) and then my third university degree (M.Ed.) with full support of my parents. I appreciate their unconditional love, their candor and commitment to engaging my passions into real world experiences.

Important Key Actions

Solid relationships take work. You cannot put them on ‘cruise control’. When I think of a person that I have a solid relationship with I see three key actions that they have taken to invest in others:

1)      TRUST – not only building trust in the relationship between each other, but to learn how to trust in one’s own intuition and feelings. Sometimes we forget to take a moment to reflect and listen to the ‘tiny voice’.

2)      TALK respectfully – by taking into consideration the person’s thoughts, feelings and situation that they find themselves in. No harsh judgments ever change a person’s outlook or journey.

3)      TAKE TIME to listen – actively by paraphrasing what the other person is saying so that the conversation is clear and understood.

Cultivate Potential

Arctic explorer Ben Saunders became the youngest person ever to ski solo to the North Pole in 2004. His TED talk about tapping into his potential for this amazing feat. Had he not have solid relationships with his family and friends (and passion and perseverance on his end), he would have not accomplished the extreme goals that he had set out for himself. I think that when I look at someone in my life that I believe has a lot of potential that they may not yet see it in themselves, it’s important for me to continue to build those three key actions above. It’s also important to nurture their attitudes and feelings as they may not be yet mature enough or have enough life experiences at the moment to truly see that they can attain the potential you see in them. It’s  like being a coach on the side, just adjusting and tweaking your advice to them until the finally realize their true potential. After all, it is a journey and not a race!

As for my Ben Saunders example, you can catch up on his expeditions and current work on his website. He is now working on leading a three-man team to the South Pole.

Professional Relationships

There are three people that I work with closely in my professional life. They have many qualities that I admire and I enjoy working with them daily on various projects. See my wordfoto for the results:

I believe the reason why we accomplish a lot while working together is that we know each other’s strengths, we capitalize on our connections/outside networks, we are comfortable questioning each other (for reflection and for clarity) and we share our own professional learning which enhances the team and collaborative efforts.

Overall, I am confident in understanding what I bring to any personal or professional relationship. I also know that my life and professional experiences shape and change my knowledge, skills and attitudes. This is a continual journey of relationship building and personal reflection. Sometimes I get it right the first time and sometimes I don’t….but what’s most important is that I have a network of people that I can count on!

Flickr cc image


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