“You have so much potential.”

Rarely do those words come as true encouragement. The statement is closer to, “Wow! Look what you’ve become. We thought you’d be more.”

Even Albert Einstein was labeled dumb, and Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star for not being creative enough. What potential did teachers or editors see in them?

On the more positive side, we encourage others to reach reach their potential. However, there’s a dangerous problem with that. Potential is the worst metric for achievement and the best metric for average.

Chasing potential leads to mediocrity, limited achievement and false finish lines.

Why?

Potential is fluid.

An illiterate adult illustrates the concept of fluid potential. What chance would you give him or her to succeed in a mid-level position at your company? You immediately created a potential perception. You placed a cap on attainment.

Imagine that same man or woman became educated and returned with the skills required for an open posiion. What is the individual's potential now?

Possibilities shift enormously when we understand potential is fluid. We risk losing much when we stamp a situation or person as hopeless and simply move on.

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Potential is manageable.

Many people feel trapped by potential. If you've ever thought, "I was meant for so much more," maybe you're one of them.

These feelings of inadequacy are at their peak when quarterly figures are low or you fail to meet an expectation you've set for yourself.

The great news is you get to decide the direction and the goal. You choose what to do next. Far from being limited by potential, you have the freedom to manage it and mold it into the possibility you want to attain.

Related: 5 Ways to Maintain a Positive Mindset (No Matter What Challenge You're Facing)

Potential is the beginning.

Many entrepreneurs have given up their dreams because of excuses -- not enough capital, poor location, failed promises or lack of support.

A lot of those same people will claim they gave it all they had. But if you sat down with them, you’d discover they were just getting started. They remained far from what they felt could be accomplished. They got discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned. So they stopped.

That doesn’t mean they were just a few steps from the other side but didn't know it. In fact, counter to what positive-attitude courses teach, the path to the other side keeps moving and shifting. Victory comes to the one who keeps going even when the next step is unclear.

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Don’t let untapped potential hold you back or make false promises. You get to decide what is possible for you and for your business. You determine the level of possibility you want to attain. And if at any time you don’t like where you're heading, correct your course and keep moving forward.