For me, coaching is all about making the most of our potential. That’s why Mark Sanborn’s book ‘The Potential Principle’ immediately grabbed my attention.
It’s not a book about perfectionism, it’s a book about improvement. To help us improve, Sanborn presents us with the Potential Matrix – I’ve recreated it for you here:
As we look at the matrix, we probably identify one quadrant which we prefer: perhaps you’re naturally an activist, in which case, ‘performing’ is probably your favoured way of operating. If you only ever concentrate on performing, you may not be taking the time to reflect and see how you could operate even more efficiently. If you spend all your time reflecting and planning but never take action to learn new skills and try them out, nothing will change. To see more improvement and to release more potential, we need to step outside of that comfortable quadrant and explore the other areas too.
You will see that improvement happens not only outwardly as we learn new skills and perform but also inwardly as we think and reflect. It’s about active experiences which we initiate and passive experiences to which we respond.
In terms of realising our potential, where do we start?
The question I ask my coaching clients is this: if you were to further develop and consistently use one or two of your current skills, which would make the biggest difference to your professional and personal performance?
We then start off in the thinking quadrant, coming up with ideas and turning them into action plans. If appropriate, the client moves into the learning quadrant in order to acquire new skills and experiences before trying them out in the performing quadrant. We come together again to reflect on progress so far and then it’s back to thinking in order to identify next steps.
For those of my coaching clients who are managers, the potential matrix gives them a chance not only make the most of their own potential but acts as a framework for professional development conversations with their team. One client has even used it to help his son choose his options for the subjects he wants to study to GCSE level.
It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Potential without action will remain untapped.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: if you were to further develop and consistently use one or two of your current skills, which would make the biggest difference to your professional and personal performance? Can you use the Potential Matrix to help you do that?
ps I’m taking a screen break: back on the blog on Friday 6 April.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your career or your life,
why not email me to see how we can work together?