A Potential Truth

It’s true, we all have the potential to do more and be more, but it’s not going to happen until we hack our ‘interferences’. 

Performance in our personal lives and careers is greatly affected by ‘stuff’ that gets in the way. Our ‘stuff’ stops us from doing better and succeeding faster and it’s either physical or mental. Just as you might have back pain that affects your physical performance, you can have any range of mental interferences such as anxiety, depression, fear of failure, or low self-esteem that stops potential from being realized. 

It’s like trying to drive a car with the handbrake on – you can push the accelerator harder to try and go forward, but you’re doing more harm than good. It’s a drag that slows us down. Unless it’s addressed, it eventually causes a complete halt with severe motor overload. 

John Wooden once said, “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do”. We spend way too much time devoted to over-analyzing and worrying about the things we generally aren’t good at, setting up a vicious cycle of fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting beliefs. Any or all of these combine to block us from moving forward toward higher levels of performance.

The better you perform, the closer you are to reaching your potential. 

Timothy Gallwey in his 1972 book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ proposed a simple equation where ‘P’ is performance, ‘Po’ is potential and ‘I’ is interference. 

P = Po – I 

the front cover of the book The inner game of tennis by Timothy Gallwey

Gallwey suggests that “the opponent within your own head is more daunting than the one on the other side of the net.” Our performance in life is the result of two halves – the brain and the body. Usually, the brain commands and the body responds, but the problem comes when the brain commands the body to do things it inherently already knows to do. We get in the way of ourselves by overthinking and making assumptions that lead to poor performance. 

What Tim found in his coaching was the difference between potential and actual ‘in-game’ performance is everything that can go wrong in the chain of communication between the brain and the body. He commented, “Performance rarely equals potential. A little self-doubt, an erroneous assumption, the fear of failure — that’s all it takes to greatly diminish performance.”

We typically don’t take enough time to ask ourselves the tough questions to figure out what our own interferences are. For some, it might be poor time management, an overly critical nature, fixed mindsets, or the idea that we can’t do something when we know others can do it. 

The truth is you’re always going to be confined by the walls you build yourself.

We have homework for you.
1. Spend time today listing what your biggest interferences are.
2. Then, identify an action you can take when your interference strikes.

This will be an anchor to remind you to get out of the habit. 

Keep that behavior going for the rest of the week to see if there’s any difference in your day. Keep that going for the rest of the month and watch the gap close between your current performance levels and your future potential.



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