My friend, Ted Holmes, launched his tenth poetry book at his 95th birthday celebration last year. He invited his family and friends to return in another five years for his centenary celebration. He is always looking ahead. His latest project is to complete a higher degree, focused on the themes of his considerable body of poetry. Ted views his potential as not something which is limited by his age.
I often try to engage Ted in talking about his illustrious past. He was a lecturer in accounting at Melbourne University and a pioneer of triple bottom line reporting. He held senior positions in government service and industry. He has valuable insights into how humble auditors and accountants transformed themselves into playing more strategic leadership roles as Chief Financial Officers and beyond. But he rarely wants to go back to the past and discuss such things. He would rather talk about the future, about his next project.
Ted is my aspirational role model. His future is always bigger than his past. Like many of us, there is the sense about him that he wants to make a big difference and that he has not yet fully realised his potential to do so, despite his age.Robert Steven Kaplan suggests that asking ourselves the question, “Am I reaching my potential?” is not the same as asking, “How do I rise to the top?” In his book, What You’re Really Meant to Do, Kaplan proposes that each of us has unique skills and abilities. He asks why we would therefore try to mimic others or try to fit into someone else’s definition of success.
One way to keep striving to realise your potential is, like Ted, to continually create a future that is bigger than your past. Of course, if it is a future doing what you love and making a difference, then you are well on the way.
Are you realising your potential?
Best regards, Brian
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