Potential is such a powerful word. Potential inspires hope, optimism, and future success.
When I think of maximizing my potential, I envision living each day with intention, purpose and passion. I think about my own daily growth and development.
However, it wasn’t long ago when I was doing anything but maximizing my potential.
It was 2003 and I was a 25-year-old with what many from the outside would describe as “Unlimited potential.” I was employed as a sales producer at a large Midwest insurance agency, college educated, newly married, and had just found out I had a baby on the way. From the outside world, I was a happy confident young man, but internally I knew that I was not growing into the person I was created to be.
Have you ever had a moment when you realize that the perception of who you are is not in alignment with the reality of who you are? I had that moment in back in 2003.
It was a hot summer day and I had to get some gas as I was on my way to go see an insurance prospect. After I slid my debit card through the gas station pump I soon saw the notification that my card was declined. I pulled out one of my credit cards……declined, another credit card…..declined, and even more credit card…….you guessed it, declined.
We hear stories everyday of others who have overcome difficult tragedies in their lives. Stories of a difficult childhood experiences, serious health issues, or the loss of a loved one. Maybe you have experienced situations like this in your own life.
I think we all have external challenges that we must face, but what about facing what I believe is the greatest challenge of all……yourself. That was the challenge I was facing in my life and I have come to realize that I am not alone in this struggle.
I have been truly blessed with a great family, a great education, and a great career, but on that day back in 2003, the two words that described me best, was not “Unlimited potential,” but instead it was “Unfulfilled potential.”
We all have moments in our lives that are will be etched in our memories forever. That was was a day I will never forget. I pulled my car over to an adjacent parking lot, slumped over the steering wheel, and just wept……and wept……and wept.
I wasn’t just broke….I was broken. I was fully equipped and resourced to be the person I wanted to be, but had let down my family, my friends, and most of all, myself.
That was the moment when I realized that had to start making changes in your life. When I got home that night, I knew it was time for me to grow up and start making better choices in my life. Although I began searching, I wasn’t sure where to start.
A few weeks later I stumbled upon an audio recording from someone who became my first personal growth mentor, Jim Rohn. Jim said something that changed me forever. He said, “For things to change, you have to change.”
What I realized was the changes I needed to make would never come from an outside source. The changes I needed to make to improve my life would have to come from within.
What are Your Intentions?
The first thing I determined in my life was that I would have to become intentional. No one gets to their desired destination on accident. I started to look for ways where I would stop waiting for things to happen and instead begin to make things happen.
Making changes to your life will require sacrifice, but for me it started by making very small sacrifices. Instead of staying out late, I would get up early. Instead of watching TV, I would read a book. Instead of spending so much time focusing on myself, I started to focus more on the needs of others.
My mentor and leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You have to give up to go up.” It’s amazing what even small sacrifices can do for your results. All growth starts by becoming intentional.
Consistency Creates Positive Habits
My mentor once said to me, “If I want to become motivated, I attend an event, if I want to grow, I engage in a process.”
I have attended hundreds of events (workshops, keynote speeches, webinars, etc) and taken countless notes at these events, but as you may have experienced in your life, motivation doesn’t last.
No event, book, or podcast will change you. You must create habits that bring positive change.
I had a speaker tell me once that writing leads to wealth because it brings clarity to thought, improves communication, and helps you to become a person of influence. This was 10 years ago back in 2007.
I had always thought that writing would be beneficial to my insurance career, but it wasn’t until 2010 when I finally began to write almost every day. It wasn’t easy at first, but after a few months it became a habit and began to see results.
In 2011, my first blog, “Insurance Tales” was created and a year later I was named one of the top 12 young agents in the country mainly due to my influence through my daily writing, blog posts, and contributions to insurance industry publications. Over time, writing has allowed me to connect with more people and improve my speaking skills. All because I began to take consistent action.
Consistent positive actions bring long-term results. Motivation may get you going, but consistency keeps you growing. What daily habits are you doing to take you from where you are to where you want to go……and grow?
You Are Who You Surround Yourself With
Speaker and author Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “You will be the same person you are today in five years except for the books you read and people you meet.”
It’s also been said that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with most. When I first heard this, I realized I had to start making some intentional changes on my own inner circle. I had to start analyzing my friendships and decide who were the people that would support me to help me get where I wanted to go.
Some of these choices were extremely difficult. Some of my close friends were fun, but they were also not helping me be the best version of me. I realized that although I was a product of my current environment, I had the ability to move to new surroundings. So, I did.
What is your environment? Is it conducive to your growth?
You can’t grow yourself or your business when you don’t feed yourself with the right soil, the right water, and the right conditions.
Who do you surround yourself with? Do they inspire you, motivate you, challenge you, and love you? If not, then maybe it’s time to change your environment.
You must Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
People don’t resist change, they resist being changed
Over the past year, I have worked with many organizations or people who desire to make positive changes in their life and business.
The key word is desire. I think we all desire to have more, do more, and become more. The problem is desire is not the same thing as action.
Significant growth is never comfortable. Many of us live each day and desire to stay comfortable. There is nothing wrong with having a level of comfort in your life and business. However, when comfort turns into complacency, you will never grow and achieve the things you really desire in your life.
Growth requires a series of stretches. Every small stretch leads to your next stretch.
In 2004, I ran my first marathon. When I began my training, I couldn’t even run 3 miles in a row, but after several consistent stretches in my training (3 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles), I was able to complete the full 26.2 miles. Every stretch pushes you a bit further……but you must take the first stretch.
A few weeks ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to stand on a stage and give my story in front of 2,500 people. Some people asked me how I could carry out that in such a short time and how I could speak in front of that many people.
The short answer is that I have stretched for a while. Life is a series of stretches.
In 2005, I joined Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a speaking club with locations all over the world. Over the next several years, I gave numerous speeches, table talks, and more to learn and develop my speaking skills. I attended most meetings at 7am every other Friday. I didn’t always look forward to getting up early on a Friday, but I stretched.
In 2011, I gave my first live presentation in front of 7 people. I knew that a great way for me to grow my insurance business and gain influence was to be able to stand up in front of people and speak. I continued to give small presentations over the next couple of years. I had a desire to speak to gain influence and share my thoughts and ideas to help others, but I was terrified. I stretched
In 2013, I gave my first “real” paid presentation. It was for 60 minutes in front of 100 insurance agents. Again, I was terrified, but I had to stretch.
This leads me to today.
Earlier this year, I took the plunge and applied to have the opportunity to speak on stage in front of 2,500 peers and mentors at an international leadership event. I almost didn’t apply because I was intimidated by the sheer size. However, I knew that although I had stretched, I needed to stretch further. After submitting several videos and practicing hundreds of times, I was selected to give my story and share the stage with some of the world’s greatest thought leaders.
I am not sharing this to boost my ego, but because I know there is somewhere in your life now where you need to stretch. There is someplace where you have been held back due to fear, doubt, and confusion.
Think big, start small
Here is what I have learned. If I didn’t stretch back in 2005 at my local Toastmasters club, or in 2011 in front of 7 people, or in 2013 in front of 100 people, I never would have had the confidence or skills to stretch in front of 2,500 people.
Life is a series of stretches. Every stretch pushes you forward into growth.
Abraham Maslow stated, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”
You must stretch. You are wired to stretch. You were created to stretch and become the person you were designed to be. You are fully equipped and resourced, but you have to start.
You just have to take the first stretch.
This is Your Time
Today, my purpose and passion as a speaker and faculty member of Agents of Growth is to help insurance agencies and agents reach their full potential. I am fortunate to be partnered with a faculty of certified leadership trainers and coaches who not only have years of insurance experience, but are committed to helping insurance professionals succeed as much as I am.
The question I ask you today is, “Are you ready to grow?” “Are you ready to maximize your potential?” Are you ready to be more, do more, and have more in your life?”