Path to Mastery: How to Expand Our Client’s Potential (Mastery #2)

by Ed Britton

Expanding potential is a key “value adding” Mastery. Potential simply means what could be accomplished if our full capabilities are thoroughly engaged. It addresses the capability, the strengths and resources, that a person has to draw on in achieving. One core approach that we can take is to help our client to recognize existing potential.

Almost everyone underestimates his or her existing potential. For instance, we do not recognize what can be accomplished over time with bite sized, persistent, regular effort.

I like this analogy for making the point about persistent effort: Consider a single drop of water. Its volume is about 0.05 millimeters – a very small amount. If one drop dripped into a 5 liter bucket every second, after a minute there will be only 3 ml of water in the bucket – not even enough to cover the bottom. After an hour, there will be 180 ml in the bucket, and that might just cover the bottom without moving up the sides. If you were in charge of dripping water into the bucket, you could understandably suppose that you would never get anywhere, especially if you factor in the rate of evaporation! However, if you persisted all day and all night, you would almost have a full bucket! If you kept going for a year, you would fill 315 buckets with water.

Persistent, undistracted effort is a rare commodity, but it can achieve results that astonish. One way that we can help our client’s to understand what they can accomplish is to do the math. To an author, for example: How much time does it take you to write a page? (Say, one hour.) How long would it take you to write your 300 page book, if you found one hour a day? (One year). That’s potential.

To a parent needing to reach a child: What does your child really like? (Doughnut)s. How could you share doughnuts with your child? (We have a doughnut café just 10 minutes away.) How often could you take him in a week? (Twice). Tell me, if you took him twice a week for six months, how would that affect your relationship? That’s potential.

To the employee who wants a promotion: Who knows what you need to do to get your promotion? (My boss). How would your boss respond if you asked her how you need to prepare for the next step in your career? (She’d tell me.) How often would you feel comfortable speaking with her about it? (Once a week). What would happen if you spoke to her about it once a week for six months? (For sure, I’d be ready for the promotion.) That’s potential.

There are many other kinds and sources of potential. The “one drop at a time” kind of potential is applicable to almost every intention, and yields truly unexpected results.

To expand your coaching potential, join us in Path to Mastery coaching triads to practice what you learn about coaching from reading the IAC VOICE. Contact

Ed BrittonEd Britton is a career and leadership coach who lives in Calgary, Canada. He also serves the IAC as the Director of Development and leads the Path to Mastery coaching triads program. Ed has a background in the physical sciences, in adult education and leadership development. After living in China for 10 years, Ed looks forward to a Canadian winter and cross country skiing! If you would like to participate in the Path to Mastery coaching triads program, please contact Ed at

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