Potential Unused Success

Adam White is CEO of Adam White Speaks, entrepreneur and author of the bestselling book, “A Leader Others Will Follow: The Power of Influence.
I am a student of learning. I still work hard to maintain my life commitment to read a book a week. Often, I am reading more than one book at a time. As I travel and speak to audiences across the country I am always reading, studying and finding new ways to add value to people. I recently was looking at the definitions of the word, “potential”, and I came across a very interesting definition. The word potential in one definition means, “Unused Success.” I sat quietly in my chair and pondered over this definition for some time. How many people leave this life with unused success still in them? Untapped potential?

Did you know that the human mind has the ability to graduate from more than 12 universities, learn 40 different languages, and memorize an encyclopedia from cover to cover in a single lifetime? The next time your co-worker or friend says in proud esteem that they are double-degreed, tell them they have 1o more degrees to get. When we realize our true human potential, we lose our ability to be arrogant. Although we may have accomplished a lot in our lives, in our careers, and in our leadership, there is still so much more potential within us.

Have you heard of the wealthiest place in the world? It’s not the oil fields of Iraq, or somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, It’s not in the Federal Reserve Bank, or in the halls of Congress. No, the wealthiest place is not in Buckingham Palace or the banks of Switzerland. The wealthiest place in the world is the cemetery.

The cemetery houses paintings that were never painted, books that were never written, speeches never given, love never shared, words never spoken, lives never change, and unused success. Potential died in the cemetery. Dreams died in the cemetery. Let me ask you a question, will you add to the wealth of the cemetery?

You might be asking me what this has to do with my leadership or my career in government. What does this have to do with my day to day work? The answer: EVERYTHING. How would you approach your work, if you knew today was the last day you could contribute? How would you treat your relationships and co-workers if you knew you wouldn’t see them again? You see, it’s important to focus on giving and doing our best every single day of our lives.

In my book, “Made for Greatness: The 7 Habits”, habit 5 says, “Focus on Achievement, Not Activity.” In this age of disruption and distraction, what stops us from tapping into more potential is that we are busy with activity but may not be accomplishing anything of value. Let me share with you the 4-time quadrants we spend our time in:

Don’t let other people’s problems become your problems.

Time Quadrant 1: Wasted Time

It goes without saying that just a few minutes here and there on social media and your day is gone. The average person spends 4.5 hours a day watching television or on social media. That adds up to 13 years of life lost. If you have 13 years to give away, please give them to me because I want to live forever. How much time in your day is wasted that could be used to achieve more meaningful work or develop more meaningful relationships at work? Our time is simply wasted on things that have no value and life is slowly slipping by day after day.

Time Quadrant 2: Other People’s Agenda

This one is tough. How much time do we spend fixing other people’s problems? Time can simply get away from us when we are so concerned with everyone else around us. Social media has changed our lives forever. We spend unthinkable amounts of time taking selfies and attracting likes on social media. We please the digital work but ignore the real work in which we live. We hide behind emails and social media posts instead of face to face conversations. Don’t let other people’s problems become your problems. To stay out of this time quadrant, you have to develop a narrow focus. Plan your day and don’t let distractions or other people disrupt your plan. That is one powerful way to achieve more instead of being busy but getting nothing done.

Time Quadrant 3: False Emergencies

This is the time quadrant where we fail to get up early and prepare for the day. We fail to take care of yesterday, so we spend today repairing what we should have accomplished yesterday. Here is a powerful point: If you are spending today to repair what you should have done yesterday, then you have no time to use today to prepare for tomorrow.

In reality, you can’t afford not to stay on task and focused because for every day you have to repair, you have already lost the potential of Preparing for tomorrow. The key to achieving more in your career, your work, your life, and your relationships is to avoid creating self-imposed emergencies. If you take time each day to plan your day, there will be no unexpected emergencies and when real emergencies do appear, you will be well prepared for them.

Time Quadrant 4: My Time

This is where you want to spend as much time as possible. My time is the quadrant where your day is planned. Why is time so important? Because whoever plans your time, controls your life. If you give your time to the other 3 quadrants, then those quadrants will design your future, your life, and your results. All other quadrants focus on other people. This is the only time quadrant you have control over. As I travel and speak, my mornings consist of waking up at 4 or 5 am, working out, spending time in mindfulness, meditation, and prayer, and then creating my agenda for the day. I assign very specific times for each task and stay with that time as closely as possible.  I can never have that type of control over my day and my time if I don’t start my day in this quadrant.

If you want to tap more of your unused potential, have high performance, and achieve more results, then start with these helpful tips:

Start Your Day in the Right Quadrant

If you wake up checking your email or social media accounts first thing in the morning, you have already lost the day. Try starting your day with exercise, meditation, and taking time for yourself. Exercise will empower your mind, and meditation or prayer will allow you to start the day in a more peaceful state before the madness begins. There will be plenty of times throughout the day where your co-workers will challenge your patience, your employees will drive you up a wall, and you will want to choke your boss. Trust me, I get it. But you don’t have to let the stress get you. Start your day in the “My “Time” Quadrant. Right now, make a commitment as you are reading this that from tomorrow morning you are going to start every day this way. Just try it for a week and I promise you, your whole life will be different. Gratitude is the cure for Stress.

Avoid Distractions

This is a big one. One of the greatest challenges we face in this digital age is DISTRACTIONS. Whether on social media, television, music, or entertainment, everyone is rallying for our attention. Where focus goes energy flows. If you allow distractions to consume your focus, that is definitely the quickest path to failure. Watch how much time you spend on social media, visiting websites, chatting on the phone, or hanging out at the coffee place at work. A few minutes may seem harmless, but they quickly add up to hours. Avoid distractions and stay focused on the agenda you created at the beginning of your day.

Focus on Achievement instead of Activity

As I mentioned earlier, Habit 5 in my book, is all about focusing on achievement instead of activity. Do you have days where you seem so busy, but then look back at your day and still feel like you didn’t accomplish anything? Do you look up and the day has gone by and you can’t recall what you actually did in that time? These are characteristics of a person that is busy, but not focused on an outcome. It is so important to plan your day in the beginning so that you create that outcome. Begin with the End in mind. Know what you need to get done each day and stick to it. Set time limits on each task or project so you can manage your time effectively. Don’t multi-task. Focus on one task at a time within a specific time limit and I promise you will get more done than you ever thought possible. Take it from a guy that has written 3 books, 4 online training programs, built 2 brands and travels across the country speaking to audiences: me.

Stay Hydrated

I didn’t realize the power of water until in the last few months I started drinking more of it during the day. I consume about 100 ounces of water in a 6-8-hour period. Now I am not advising you drink that much or follow my routine. I am simply saying that when you sip on water as you work, you stay more hydrated and that hydration allows your mind to focus for longer periods of time without getting as tired. The other benefit to consistently drinking water is that it forces you to get up from your desk and use the bathroom more frequently. You gain more steps and more exercise. That’s a great benefit. See all things work together for your benefit. Water is your friend.

Manage Email & Social Media

It’s interesting to me to see how many business owners, leaders, HR professionals, etc. have time to post on social media so often. I wonder how people can get their work done when they are living on social media or living in their email inbox. Speaking of email, did you know that your email is simply, “an organized system of other people’s agendas?” That’s right, you can spend your whole day in reactive mode simply responding to every single email that comes to you. Try setting specific times of the day when you check your email. Close your inbox when you are not checking during those times. That allows you to focus on other tasks and not be distracted by those email pop-up notifications. Those notifications put mental pressure on you to immediately stop what you are doing to check email. Another tip is to close all browsers and windows and only keep open on your desktop or laptop what you are working on at that time. This really works and it’s how I manage my time and day.

Don’t Waste Your Most Precious Gift: TIME

This whole article is all about your most precious life gift: TIME.

We all have the same 24 hours. But it is what we do in each moment that will shape the rest of our lives. We hear a lot about planning for 3 years, 5 years, 20 years, but make sure you have a plan for the next 5 minutes and how you will use this gift called today.

Don’t waste the precious time you have been given. If you think minutes are unimportant:

Ask the person who only has 3 days to live how valuable 1 day is…

Ask the person who arrived at the hospital 1 minute late and didn’t say goodbye to their loved one…

Every hour more than 6,300 people die. That’s right every hour that many people die. So now think about how you will spend your next hour… Time is the one asset that we can’t get more of.

Don’t waste your potential, don’t waste your unused success.

Did you enjoy this article? Want more?

Feel free to order a copy of my book, “Made for Greatness: The 7 Habits” at adamempowers.com or adamwhitespeaks.com.

Are you ready to solve your most pressing problems?

Are you ready to adopt the Purpose-Driven Leadership principles within your organization?


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