What does it mean for someone to reach their true potential?

We talk about someone doing this, or failing to do this, all the time, but what do we actually mean by it?

When it comes right down to the language, nobody seems to know what we actually mean – and we cannot articulate what we mean either.

When people talk about somebody reaching their true potential, it often seems to be in an academic context, as if we mean that everybody has the capacity to surpass any limits which have been put on them by either their own mind or others.

It can also be used to mean physical potential, but more often it does seem to be entirely mental in nature.

The idea that we have a true potential to reach, of course, means that there is the possibility that we will fail to reach that potential. Lots of people set great store by the ability to create, and create in a sustained manner, for example.

The idea is that humans as individual beings, are essentially without limit, and to not even attempt to tap into that potential (though sometimes this is not our own fault), is something which is a great shame.

Reasons Behind

There are many reasons why someone might not be reaching their true potential. Some reasons might be due to their own actions, but others are completely out of their control.

It may be the environment they are in either socially or academically, or possibly even the place in which they live. It is difficult to unlock their true potential if the resources aren’t there.

A lack of Self-Awareness

Sometimes, people are held back by their own lack of self-awareness. It does seem an odd thing to say, as we are used to thinking that people who don’t reach their true potential are perhaps aware of that fact. Sometimes, though, this is not the case.

Sometimes people simply do not know what they are capable of, because they have never been told or shown what they could be. It is probably one of the life’s ironies that the more talented you are, the less likely you are to be aware of that talent, and so look for ways in which to nurture it accordingly.


Sometimes, it can be hard to get motivated, when it comes to getting your work done. It is a common perception that talent means you don’t need to practice whatever craft you have put your hand too, but this is misleading and ultimately false.

Talent is something that can give you a leg up on certain things, but unless you have the motivation, that talent will go unused. Motivation is necessary for people to fully reach their potential – it isn’t something that will be unlocked on its own.

Motivation is easy when it comes to subjects and works which people find interesting – it is when the subject at hand is something which does not appeal that motivation can be difficult.

Focusing on the Wrong Areas

What we call our personality is in fact traits and tendencies which we tend to default to in most situations. These tendencies are mostly good since they inform who we are, but they can have a downside in that we have to be able to apply them properly.

What people don’t realize is that their personalities can inform what they do – some people naturally thrive in regimented environments, for example, while others find it suffocating.

Finding the correct environment for your personality to flourish can allow you to find new energy for your work and studies. The right environment can work wonders for you.

Why You Are Not Reaching Your True Potential


1. Explore yourself

Figure out what you want and need, and go for it. The results will be astonishing. Finding the right environment for yourself is key to finding out what really gets you going, and finding out what really catches your interest is the key to truly meeting your potential.

This is the reason for so many extra-curricular activities – finding out what you like and what you are good at is not something which will solely occur in a classroom, and you would be surprised what can be learned about various subjects even outside of it.

Meeting people is one way in which you can expand your horizons, by coming into contact with people and personalities which are different to the ones you are used to.

2. Ace Harder tasks

Reaching your true potential is something which is done through pushing yourself, as hard as it can sometimes be. Hard tests, hard situations, hard subjects…all of it is valuable and useful if you want to exceed what you think you are capable of.

Sometimes the value isn’t even in pushing yourself in areas which you are good at; pushing yourself in something you are unfamiliar with can be just as useful.

3. Improve your Endurance

Endurance – the ability to stay the course – is necessary for reaching true potential. It is easy enough to keep going at something when everything is easy, but reaching your true potential is sometimes not easy at all.

At that point, being able to endure difficulties, and keep on going despite setbacks, is a needed quality.

4. Own your Choices

The trick is to keep on going despite that. Sometimes you can find yourself working towards a goal which, as it turns out, is not something which ultimately helpful to you and to the goal of fulfilling your own potential, but that is okay.

Most people find it helpful to keep in mind that everything is a learning experience, even if that learning experience is not directly related to what you want to do in life.

5. Ask for Feedback

It can be difficult to ask for feedback; asking somebody to critique your work is asking for some blunt truths about where you fall short, even if they do balance it out with some with praise.

But feedback, finding out where you went wrong and perhaps how best to correct it, is something which is necessary if you want to improve. After all, how can you improve if you don’t know what is wrong?

Wrapping it up

This article discussed the main ways in which potential is missed, and offered some solutions for how best to reach it. Potential is something that is composed of a variety of factors, which is perhaps what makes it so difficult to truly reach it in a number of cases.

But while reaching your potential can be difficult, it is not impossible, and so it is something we should all strive for.

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