Thursday, July 19, 2012

The look of potential

I'll never forget the first time a professor looked me in the eye and told me he expected me to do great things in the world. 

In an age of social media and texting, we don't look people in the eye when we communicate that often. I sure don't. But that doesn't change how powerful it is when we do. 

When I worked as a student life coordinator, I was amazed at how students lit up when I looked them in the eye and told them the leadership potential I saw in them. This was part of my job - to encourage students with potential to apply for leadership positions. But what surprised me was the impact this seemed to have on the students themselves. I could feel them come alive.

Sadly I think too many people with potential never live up to it because they've never had anyone in their life to tell them of their greatness. 

And while, yes, there are plenty of arrogant people out there who need to be brought down a notch, I think there are many more people who are just desperate to feel valued, brimming with gifts to give to the world, but unaware that anyone would want what they have to offer.

So today's blog is a two-fold challenge:

1) Think back to a time when someone looked you in the eye and told you they saw potential in you. What did they say? Write it down and read it often. 

2) The next time you are face-t0-face with a friend or someone you appreciate, look them in the eye and tell them what potential you see in them and what you appreciate about who they are. If that makes you feel awkward, you can start by saying something like this: "hey I read this blog that challenged me to tell one person what I think of them this week, and I thought of you and wanted to tell you that..." Focus on the qualities/talents you see they naturally possess and what you could see them doing in the world. 

You will make their day more than you realize, and you'll be surprised at how good you will feel as the messenger of someone else's potential. 

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