How Do Our Life Experiences Affect our Potential?
In our last article we talked about Achieving our Potential, and in this post will talk about the influence of our life experiences on our potential.
We learn not only from formal education but also from life experiences. What we learn can be positive or negative, depending on what experiences we have.
We may have learned lessons that were completely compatible with our gifts and talents. These experiences helped us develop them and prepared us for using them. On the other hand, our life experiences may have blocked our gifts and talents. These may have actually prevented us from discovering and developing them.
The Impact of Parents
Parents are a great influence on us. As our primary caregivers for the first part of our lives, what they teach us is very significant and will last a lifetime for many people. If we had loving parents, then we likely developed a strong sense of self-worth. If they exposed us to many different sports, hobbies, activities, and educational activities, then we had a greater chance of discovering what our gifts and talents were at a young age. These positive life experiences make it easier for us to realize our potential.
However, if our parents were ill equipped to be parents, then our life experiences may not have been so encouraging. If our parents were unable to love us because of their own unfortunate dysfunction, then our parents would not have been able to give us a strong sense of self-worth.
In fact, the opposite may have happened: they may have given us a weak sense of self-worth, which would make achieving any success more difficult. If they weren’t effective parents, then we may have a hard time discovering and developing our gifts and talents.
But the picture is not all bleak for those of us who didn’t have the Super Parents. I believe my parents’ poor parenting is a major source of my strength today. My father was seldom sober, and my mother was so preoccupied with him that I ended up being a neglected child. I was often told to do something but given no parental help or supervision. I learned to be very resourceful and to do things by myself. I have a great sense of self-discipline that I feel developed because of the situation at home.
I also learned to be independent, which meant that I could survive adversity and be confident that I would make it. As an adult, I went through divorce and emigration to another country with no family support of any kind. Also, my situation at home motivated me to become successful so I wouldn’t end up like my dad. (I feel that my dad wasted his life through his excessive use of alcohol.) That meant getting an education, which has made all the difference in my life.
The motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer, says a similar thing happened t him. His father’s abandonment of the family led him to learn self-reliance. That is a major theme of his philosophy of life.
Individuals with great parents can turn out to be unsuccessful in life. On the other hand, many people who had bad childhoods and seem to have everything going against them can become hugely successful in life.
It is not our situation that determines our success as much as our response to the situation.
If we look at two people who grew up in the same bad environment, we might see that they had very different responses to their situation. One responds by refusing to let the hardship hurt. He becomes determined to succeed in life. The other person growing up in the same household gives up and becomes an alcoholic, feeling sorry for himself because of what happened during his childhood.
We must never live in the past!
We must never live in the future!
We must only live in the present!
In other words, what happened to us in our past need not control our present. What might or might not happen in the future should not affect what we do today, unless of course, we can predict that our actions will have direct consequences.
We shouldn’t live today in fear that in the future something bad might happen, such as getting cancer. However, we shouldn’t go out and rob a bank today feeling that what happens tomorrow doesn’t matter.
We must live in the present while keeping in mind that our actions today may affect the future. We must always live in the present because it is the only time when we have any power to make choices and take action.
We’ll continue our discussion of developing our potential in our next article.
This is an excerpt from Bruce’s book “Attitude Determines Destiny”.
As a motivational speaker, he conducts seminars and workshops based upon the ideas in his book. He entertains and inspires audiences wherever he goes.
Contact him for your next event