See Your Potential

Jane Gould Smith

The Spirit of Enterprise believes that we all have God-given potential. But how do you see it? And how do you start to use it?

In October 2009, I was trying to keep awake during a 7am “Jobs Summit” at a conference in Birmingham. I’d started a Job Club in my own Dorset town, so I was mildly curious about the politicians’ view of employment. But, if I’m honest, I was more excited about meeting other Job Club leaders to swap notes and get inspired. 

I sat through forty minutes of impenetrable, jargon-heavy, stratospheric theory. 

Not one word about the people, the struggling, jobless individuals. Zero understanding of that puddle of despair where most of our emotionally bedraggled Job Club members began their climb back up the ladder.  Yes, I was disappointed; but still hoped that in networking over coffee, I might still find the inspiration I was hoping for.

Be careful what you wish for… 

A normal-looking man approached me. We introduced ourselves and agreed about the “interesting” talk. And then he said in a matter-of-fact sort of voice: “So - where are your next three Job Clubs going to be?”

THREE? (As my coffee cup clattered into its saucer and the spoon went south)

I hadn’t dreamed of starting ANY more! How would someone like me be able to do that? Who did this man think I was? Could he see a Wonder-woman cloak? Invisible to everyone else; especially me? 

I remember another incident, when I started working with a personal trainer in 2015, I was totally unfit and wearing a size XXL or 18-20. He assured me that I’d soon be healthy and wearing a size M or 14. A size 14? My chin(s) dropped! I couldn’t walk upstairs without getting breathless. Other people could get results… not me.

Well, as it turned out, they were both right. 

By the end of 2011, that normal-looking man, Chris Neal, and I had built a national network of 83 volunteer-led Job Clubs, guiding Job Club leaders who in turn nurtured thousands of people in their search for work. The Job Clubs spawned Clean Sheet, which supports hundreds of former prisoners all over the UK to find long-term employment each year. 

And the trainer was right too — after six months of hard work, I wore those size 14 dresses! (Note to self — need to repeat!)

And why? Because these two people saw my potential.

Why can’t we see our own potential?

Swap Out Your Blinkers

In one of my favourite films, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, after Sundance has just dismissed another of his partner’s “great ideas," Butch gives a heartfelt sigh and says, “I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals”. 

A trainer puts blinkers on a racehorse to keep him focussed on the race. No distractions, no stopping to take a bite out of a lovely leafy steeplechase fence. 

But blinkers or bifocals; they do the same thing. They fragment and limit our vision. 

If you can’t see your own potential, your blinkers might be:

  • Lack of affirmation or encouragement
  • A habit of self-sabotage
  • A default of “I can’t!"
  • A fear of failure
  • Low expectations
  • Negative self-worth
  • Waiting for permission
  • Believing there’s someone better
  • Thinking you’re stupid 

You Need A Periscope

What’s a periscope? It’s that useful bit of kit that allows a submarine crew cruising beneath the sea, to break the surface and take in the possibilities of a bigger and wider picture than the crew could imagine. 

Why do you need one? To take the limits off your vision. 

As you’ve seen, I met my periscope by chance, and that’s what most of us do. But you can do better and The Spirit of Enterprise Connections will help you. 

Your periscope might not look nor sound like you. Chris and I didn’t always agree — far from it! But that’s fine, as our human characters hone and refine one another — “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17 

You Have Permission

Every situation and every season is important in your life. 

Now is the time to see your potential. 

Yes, it's a step of faith; yes, it’s hard to kick the negative “What if…”.

With the right person believing in you, encouraging and challenging you, you’ll use those words “What if… ” in a positive, winning way.  

You’ll dare to take the opportunities and actually thrive in difficult times. 

The Spirit of Enterprise wants to hear from you. 

If you’re a believer in faith-inspired enterprise, or if you want to realise your own potential starting or developing your business or social project, then get in touch and let’s travel together.

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