Mark Sanborn on The Potential Principle

“We all know how good we’ve become—but we don’t know how good we could be,” says Mark Sanborn in his new book, The Potential Principle“Almost all people have a desire to get better—but only 30% have a plan.”

That’s wishful thinking, says Sanborn.

Sanborn recommends that people practice “positive discontent” in their lives and says that life gets interesting when you ask yourself, “How much better could I be?”

He offers four reasons for getting started sooner rather than later:

  1. Change: If you stay the same, you get left behind
  2. Customers: The more you do, the more they expect—you have to keep improving
  3. Competitors: They keep getting better—you need to, also
  4. Capability: It gives you a chance to offer more to the world

Sanborn discusses his Potential Matrix, which focuses on both your inner world and your outer world. In the outer world you have performing and learning.  In the inner world, thinking and reflecting. Sanborn explains that most people have a preferred quadrant, but it’s best to work on all four and look for improvement in all areas.

“Start with what you most need to improve. Where would you see the most benefit?  This makes it easier to create momentum.”

Next, Sanborn recommends finding people who can help you along your journey.

“Engage others—think who before how. Who can help you get better?  Find an expert who already knows.”

Sanborn also discusses how to disrupt your present thinking, refocus on what is important, and increase your capacity.

“You need to disrupt yourself before someone else does.  You probably have a relationship, process, or problem that you know isn’t working very well.  It’s always better to initiate disruption yourself than to wait for things to get worse—then you have to act.

Sanborn specifically encourages leaders.

“Leaders know what matters—the key is to make it matter to others—that’s what makes you a leader. Focus on the important things. Grow yourself and grow your team.  Learn how to accomplish more in the same amount of time.”

And finally, some personal advice.

“Each morning make it a goal to go to bed that night a little bit smarter than you were when you woke up.  Learn something new.  Try something different.  Make a new a new friend. Pursue a new idea. Don’t go through life status quo.”

Be sure to listen to the very end of the interview to hear Ken Blanchard’s thoughts and takeaways from the ideas Sanborn shares!

About the Author

Chad Gordon

Chad Gordon is the host of the LeaderChat podcast and one of Blanchard's top client partners dedicated to helping global organizations lead at a higher level. He is the coauthor of 21 Days to Becoming an Effective Situational Leader and The Situational Leadership® II Challenge.

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