One thing that helps you reach your potential

Sometimes who we are and who we want to be feel too far apart to do anything about. But that’s not true in many cases. 

You can reach your potential. 

It starts with these words. 

“I can.”

That simple phrase is the key to going further than we ever thought we could. 

And yet many of us find it difficult to say. 

I know I do. 

Ironically, while wrestling over this post, the urge to quit crept up on me. Words weren’t flowing; my thoughts jumbled; and I almost succumbed to my frustration as I whispered to myself, “I can’t.”

You might be feeling that way right now about some goal or task or dream. You’re too tired or busy to try. You feel like you can’t. 

But you can.  

Can you climb that mountain, get fit, start a blog, grow your wealth, woo that person, find a better career? 

“I can.” 

Say it out loud. Write it down in your journal. Imprint it onto your heart. Those words are powerful.

“Can” is a word that dreams. It can see beyond the present and into the future, not what will be but what could be. It sees the possibilities. It shows you what and who you could become in a year, five, ten years. 

The poor can become wealthy; the uneducated can attend university, the unhealthy can get fit; the failure can succeed. 

“Can” originated from the Latin and Greek verb “know.” That means potential and knowledge are directly linked. So we must know that something is possible for us to try. We can only see the possibility of a goal or dream if we know it exists. Not only that, we must recognize that we can accomplish that goal. “Can” isn’t just about seeing what we can achieve, it’s acknowledging that we have the capability (not to be confused with the guaranty) of achieving it. 

But the rub I see is that many of us do not know that we can achieve more than we think. We limit ourselves, even though we have far more potential than we credit ourselves with. Knowledge is power. The problem is that many of us don’t know how much power we already have.

I was talking to a friend who told me that he read my post on how I lost fifty pounds and got fit. But he said that he didn’t think he could do the same: His work and family obligations didn’t seem to allow for it. I told him about how manageable my workouts were, and that intermittent fasting wasn’t easy but that anyone can do it. He wasn’t swayed. He didn’t see the power that was already in him. 

He can change, manage his time, do the workouts, fast. All of the capacity and capabilities were right there in him, waiting to be unleashed. He just didn’t know it yet.

And there may be more going on in him, and in all of us, for that matter, hindering us.

The past is it’s own mountain to climb and can be one of our greatest obstacles. Our memories trap us and hold us captive. They are filled with failures, pain, sorrow, guilt, shame. “I tried that once,” we say to ourselves, “but it didn’t work.” All we can see is that we failed. And we hang our heads.

What we tried didn’t go according to plan, so we’ve rendered all future attempts to being impossible, forbidding ourselves from ever trying to try again.  

But “I can” bids us to have another go. “I can” teaches us from our failures and then takes those learnings and applies them to the next attempt. “I can” knows that failure is a part of the journey of reaching our potential. “I can” understands that progress is a process, and success isn’t wrought by what you tried but is in the trying. 

Stories define us, and “I can” is a story. It’s about going on that quest, journey, adventure. You need to slay dragons, overcome fears, face darkness, but you will also find castles, unicorns, victory, love, treasure. You become someone you never thought you could be. “I can,” tells a better story. 

“I can” does. It works, experiments, tests. And it’s not about doing something great immediately, no. It often starts small by trying to do this or that thing, bit by bit. It’s experimental, full of trials and errors. And when something works, it builds on that success and continues to push it. Then, as the days, months, and years pass, you will be amazed by what you did. 

So a decision must be made. 

Who are you? Or, rather, who do you want to be? 

Only you can decide that. 

It is what you are deciding every day, whether you know it or not. 

If you are attempting something new, uncertain, striving, then you’ve chosen “I can.”

Anyone can. 

You can create a better story for yourself. It’s not about what was. It’s about what is and will be. And you are the author.  

You are writing your story right now. 

What will you do next? 


  1. Linda Latt says:

    Nice post, John. Yes, we all can. Isn’t it amazing that humans have the biggest capacity for achieving so many things and yet, we do not believe in ourselves.


    1. John Pa says:

      Thanks, Linda. Yes, absolutely. It is amazing and terribly unfortunate for us all. Imagine what the world would be like if we did.


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