Personal & Development
ACHIEVING YOUR FULL POTENTIALBy Stephen R. Schmidt, PhDWe are all given different talents, abilities and opportunities. To achieve our full potential we must maximize the use of what we have been given in order to excel both at work and in our relationships. Then why are so many failing to achieve their full potential? The answer is simple; they spend too much time focused on self (MEism) and not enough time focused on others (WEism).
When we become so self-absorbed that we truly believe all of our successes are a result of our self-sufficiency and all of our failures are because of someone or something else, we lack humility and are suffering from some degree of excessive self-love referred to as narcissism. The opposite of narcissism (MEism) is humility (WEism). A humble person sees life as a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed. Therefore, whether our life has been filled with a serious amount of trauma or an amazing amount of accomplishments, a response of blaming others for all our pain and praising ourselves for all our success is unhealthy. This type of response is the result of self-focused values (MEism) that manifest themselves in the following beliefs: Oh great is ME; Oh woe is ME; Entitled is ME; Listen to ME; Don’t bother ME; Don’t blame ME; Why is this happening to ME; What is in this for ME; etc.
At the extreme, this type of person becomes clinically and pathologically narcissistic. However, psychologists speculate that only a small percentage of Americans are clinically narcissistic. Even though every human being comes into this world with a sense of self-focus, healthy people will strive to overcome this self-focus through building healthy relationships (WEism). However, since none of us are perfect, we all need to assess our narcissistic tendencies which result in dysfunctional behavior and then commit to changing that behavior. We must accept the fact that the only person we have the power to change is ourselves. Therefore, focusing on everyone else’s flaws and not our own is counterproductive.
Although narcissism is becoming a rapidly spreading problem these days, it has plagued humans and robbed them of joy, success and happiness since the beginning of time. The deterioration of our mental health is evident by considering that most of our ancestors 200 or more years ago had lives far more difficult than ours. Yet, it is possible they had far more gratitude, happiness and humility than most of us today. Most likely their hardships forced them to discover the secret of success and happiness: “WEism is more powerful than MEism.” Unfortunately, all of our scientific discoveries in over the last 200 years have not stopped the growth in MEism and if anything have accelerated it. One great American who understood the cause of our decline was President Abraham Lincoln. Here is how he put it in 1863; “We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
The great leaders of our time have not been able to influence a reverse in this downward spiral. In fact, many great leaders seem to also suffer severe narcissistic tendencies and overtime unethical and immoral behavior over takes them. It is important to understand that narcissism and victimism are one in the same; excessive love of self, MEism. They are the polar extremes in the love spectrum. Many public figures use victimism to build a large following. True humility recognizes the need for healthy relationships, WEism, which leads to treating others the way we want to be treated.
When we move from “MEism focus” to “WEism focus,” we build teamwork which leads to collaboration, creativity, innovation and a fully engaged workforce that will make our country great. Over the past 6-7 years Gallup has conducted a world-wide study on employee engagement. Although the U.S. came out on top, only 30% (on average) of American workers are fully engaged. Roughly 50% are disengaged (do only the minimum) and 20% are toxic. Gallup also found that these numbers have not changed significantly indicating we need radical change to make to make America great.
In order for America to become great we need more than rhetoric, we need changed hearts from MEism to WEism. Great nations have great communities, great families and great organizations of all types.The heart of an organization is its culture composed of the hearts of the people and primarily influenced by the hearts of the leaders. Therefore, to make America great requires that we improve the individual engagement in our families, communities, organizations and our country. To accomplish this task, all of us need to embrace the following basic truths:
- Most of us are afraid to face the truth of who we are.
- Most of the pain in our life is self-inflected.
- We have all been wounded from some trauma either physical, emotional, mental, sexual, etc. and we have just 3 choices:
a. Wounded Prisoner – is someone who is stuck in the victim mode and if they don’t learn to be a
wounded warrior they are likely to turn to addiction in order to escape the ongoing pain from the
trauma. They are enslaved to MEism.
b. Wounded Quitter – is a wounded prisoner who has remained that way too long and has not found
escape from their self-pity and/or addiction. They are likely to check out.
c. Wounded Warrior – has become an active combatant in the battle of ME vs WE and has learned ways
to practice and grow in WEism.
- We must own our pain and stop blaming others.
- It is easier to focus on the speck in everyone else’s eye rather than to focus on the board in our own eye.
- The only person we can change is me.
- Change starts with me.
- It will be a life journey of work to transform me from ME to WE.
- WE is always more powerful than ME.
- Each of us has a destiny – a purpose. Victimism is our enemy.
- Only courageous individuals who are determined to get well will succeed.
- Finding fully engaged team players is becoming more and more difficult. As we indicated before, Gallup studies show on the average only 30% employees are fully engaged, 50% clock in, do the minimum and clock out while 20% are toxic.
Since the beginning of time, human beings have struggled with the battle of ME verse WE. It will be a lifelong battle for each of us to be transformed from MEism to WEism. Then and only then can we reach the pinnacle of our full potential. This battle of ME verse WE is a war that requires a fully engaged heart.