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You Will Never Reach Your Full Potential And That's A Good Thing

Written by: Marc Scheff, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Marc Scheff

In the business world, founders and artists have something in common, they know that they’re playing an infinite game and with the right perspective that can fuel you for bigger moves.


Landscape photo of a person's hand reaching

Let’s talk about what never means


Almost 2500 years ago, Zeno of Elea bet against Achilles.

 

He was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and devised two entwined paradoxes ¹ that claimed, mathematically, if you gave a tortoise a head start in a race, Achilles would never reach him.

 

He presents it like this, Achilles is about to race a tortoise. The tortoise gets a head start of 100 meters. So, Achilles quickly runs 100 meters. However, in that time, the tortoise has also moved forward. Now Achilles has a little bit more to run. Again, he gets to where the tortoise was, only to see his target a little closer, but slightly ahead. So he sets a new target, gets there, and sure enough the tortoise has eked ahead.

 

So, never? In Zeno’s mathematical paradox, Achilles never reaches the tortoise because he has an infinite number of points to reach while the tortoise always has just enough time to move slightly ahead.

 

This is a paradox that sounds all too familiar to two kinds of clients I work with: artists, and founders.

 

You’re never going to be satisfied, and that’s a good thing


I worked with a company founder who was pretty close to burnout. He had an idea for what he wanted to do in his next chapter of life and felt stuck dealing with the present.

 

His future was beautiful, and his current situation felt deeply unsatisfying in comparison. He had done what he set out to do. Now he found himself out of his zone of genius, the place where he gets to play, imagine, create, and do it all with a sense of fun and play.


Lik Achilles, staring at the tortoise, the expectation of satisfaction when you reach a goal can be crushing when you get there and see you have a new goal.

 

This is a hard thing, a challenging thing, a confronting thing, and if you are open to your own constant evolution, it’s a great thing.

 

For over a decade, I taught and mentored artists to create businesses they loved working on and working in. On the first day of most semesters, I would explain that they could look forward to a life of mostly not liking anything they made and that’s exactly what they wanted.

 

This isn’t counterintuitive.

 

If they could see how to improve a thing they just did, that was the fuel to make the next thing. That dissatisfaction is the thing that made them great, or great in the making, at what they do.

 

If you’re growing, there’s always further to go. If you think you have nowhere to go, you’re not growing.

 

The goal isn’t moving, you are

 

I train jiu jitsu 5 days a week, sometimes more.

 

When I started, I was certainly not the best. Then a few months later, a new white belt joined and as I rolled with him I realized, “Hey, I know some stuff.”

 

I didn’t know as much as the folks who were already higher belts and moving forward. And still, I was moving too. Every time I get a stripe or belt promotion, it’s an acknowledgment of that distance. It’s also the start of a new journey. Looking forward, I always and will forever have room to grow. Looking back, I can appreciate the growth I’ve made.

 

So what happened to my founder who was disenchanted with where he was?

 

We looked back, we discovered where he felt in flow, and we discovered a few concrete ways he could begin embodying that mindset as he started his journey to his next belt promotion in his business.

 

For the constantly evolving creative, artists, founders, and many many in the world who don’t have “creative” jobs but love thinking creatively, once the challenge is done and the ship is running smoothly, they ITCH for that next challenge, that next creative puzzle.

 

They want to know where the tortoise went next.


It’s not a single race, and then another one, and another. It’s a long game, infinite, with no end.


Forever not never

 

In the realm of business leadership, according to Simon Sinek ² and James P. Carse, ³ an “infinite game” is a game that is played with no end in mind.

 

In the infinite game of creating our lives, there is no way to fail. There’s just win or learn.

 

I had to embrace this hard in 2021 when I left my role as Executive Director at a non-profit. It was one of the hardest times in my life. However, with great support from my wife and various coaches, I was able to ask myself what the learning was, and what I wanted to create in the space that was left in my life at that time.

 

So next time you’re facing a big failure, a round of layoffs, remember this beautiful quote from David Bowie:

 

“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”


An exercise

 

I like to leave readers with an exercise to expand potential.

 

This is a single question, and like my last article here the wording is essential. When you’ve reached a plateau, journal a list in answer to this question.


What could I create from this place?

 

“Could” is a key word. It’s imaginative, it invites creativity.

 

For example, another founder I worked with had his big exit. He figured out that he could create another company and do the same thing again. But he wanted to do something more impactful, and discovered he could take time and create a company that was 10x not 2x his last one. He also could take his exit and commit his energy to social good.

 

“Could” is not a commitment. It’s not a list of things you’d love doing. It’s just things you could do.


“From this place” is also important.

 

Sometimes life circumstances limit our choices. This is a great place to get creative! Like seeing only three ingredients in a fridge and coming up with a dinner plan, you can look at your skills, capabilities, and environments to chef up your next life chapter.

 

Another example. My coach told me a story about how he traveled to a workshop. Before a lunch break, the organizer told everyone, you have homework. On this lunch break, go make some money.

 

He had 1 hour in a place that wasn’t his home and only his phone.

 

He got creative, made a few courageous calls, and walked back in with a commitment for a 10k contract.

 

Bonus: What will you create?


Leave a comment, copy and paste the following and fill in the blanks:


With a little courage I could create                                                today.


With a little courage I could create                             today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


With a little courage I could create                                         today.


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Marc Scheff Brainz Magazine
 

Marc Scheff, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marc Scheff works with people to design lives beyond what they think is possible. As a child he saw first hand what shifts in perspective and mindset can create even against difficult odds. He now dedicates his time to working with high-level creators and entrepreneurs to create well beyond the success they've had and into the success they've dreamed about. His purpose is to unleash creativity, and he has had the distinct pleasure of doing with work with a healthcare exec, a museum curator, an advisor to the president, and hundreds more.

 

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