Have you identified your unique potential, and are you developing it? Are you making an effort to call out the potential of others?

One day, a red-head library teacher at my primary school, made an embarrassing comment in front of my whole class about my wide variety of facial expressions, such as she’s never seen the likes of in any child. She suggested I study drama. That would have been a positive call-out of my potential, had her tone and intention not been so hurtful and patronizing. As a result, it did not produce good fruit in my life.

Positive remarks came my way which were genuine and uplifting, such as “You’re an engaging, dynamic individual, you should be in journalism” Or a team leader’s comment “You’re a self-starter and visionary, you should develop your own team…”

See the difference? One remark was criticizing and rolled out a remora in my pathway of life. The others aligned with my potential, were uplifting and produced good fruit. Those positive call-outs would become driving factors and enablers in my life. Like runway lights along my path of self-development as a leader and mentor, they burnt brightly as I reached out to others and started calling out their potential too.

Why should our potential be called out? The Collins English Dictionary states “If we say that someone or something has potential, we mean that they have the necessary abilities or qualities to become successful or useful in future.” From the moment we are born we thrive on attention, recognition and encouragement. Without it, we wither and our development on all levels is stunted. Our first smile is acknowledged, and we keep on smiling all the more! We take our first step, receive a huge applause and we take another step until we manage to run. Acknowledgement and recognition of our potential has a catapulting effect in the human psyche and those of us who receive it, develop exponentially.

As we progress through life, our eagerness to show ourselves to the world and to make a positive contribution, is energized at each turn where we experience our potential being called out. The more we experience this, it lessens the weight we carry of negative inputs acquired along the way. Shame, for instance, is one such negative force which, according to Eugene K Choi from DestinyHacks, blurs our ability to recognize who we truly are. He further says “it wasn’t until an amazing mentor entered into my life that I finally learned what it felt like to feel safe and connect with myself and my purpose”

Clarity is gained as we become empowered by the mirror effect of our potential being called out.  “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them” teaches John C Maxwell, well-known expert on leadership. Being close enough to relate, is being close enough to call out potential.

After reading John Mabry’s story in the November 2017 Toastmaster magazine, I decided to join Toastmasters, where potential is accommodated, acknowledged and leaders are made. John Mabry was catapulted into public speaking by 2 professors who called out his potential. As current VPM for my club, I see it as my privilege to be part of a team of leaders who do exactly that for our members and I envisage much good fruit developing from our joint efforts. Our theme for the coming year is Get Up, Show Up and Keep moving Up.

Calling out someone’s potential is like holding a mirror up to their souls and letting it reflect their true self. We just need to be consciously doing it for others, by listening and seeing others with genuine sincerity.  Woody Allen aptly states “80% of success is showing up”. In the June 2019 issue of Toastmaster magazine, Omei Bongos-Ikwue who has a speech impediment and qualified for semi-finals in the International Speech Contest 2018, points out that “the process of showing up to each meeting and facing the audience in any capacity (role)…fortified me for the semifinals.”

As our IPP, Lorraine Penduka, reminded us at our club, we should live as though we shall be accommodated!  At Toastmasters we learn that it is definitely worth our while showing up. As we evaluate and give feedback we also call out potential in others, strengthening their ability to live with a positive expectation that they shall be accommodated. The fruit will show – they will want to show up!