How to Activate the Potential in Yourself and Others

Are You an Idealist or a Realist?

“When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him capable of what he should be. “                              —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Pres, my husband has made his transition to the next dimension of living, but it gives me goosebumps even now to recall the moment almost 50 years ago, when he said,  “I may not be that now, but if that’s the way you see me, I’ll be that tomorrow!”  (The rest of the story  under the caption Words of Appreciation)

I recently ran across a video of Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and famous author of the best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning.  You might expect him to talk about overcoming hardship, pain, and survival, from his experience in a concentration camp. 

Instead, he shared the aspect of his passion concerned with how we can support humanity’s search for meaning by becoming an idealist.

He used the metaphor of crabbing which is the adjustment method pilots use to control their plane for weather, temperature, and crosswind during any stage of flight.

Frankl used the example of a pilot who is flying to his landing field destination which is due east. He said that if the pilot hits a crosswind as he’s flying east he will drift south and miss his destination. But if he overestimates and flies north he will drift and land east, at his destination. See Diagram:

Frankl made the analogy of crabbing to humanity saying that if we take a person as they currently are and focus on his/her imperfections (as they head east) we make them worse (south).

Overestimate and Activate Potential

But If as an idealist we recognize they are a work in progress  — just as we are —  and overestimate him/her, we activate the potential in that person to become who or what they are capable of. In the context of Frankl’s analogy east represents the person’s true purpose and meaning in life.

A realist is a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly. The perspective of a realist tends toward having no time for what they would call “Your world of make believe.” Using the crabbing analogy, a realist prefers a straight A to B to C line approach to life.

When you contrast the realist approach with an idealist Who tends to be a person who represents things as they might or could be rather than as they are, you might say, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”

What if there is a mindset in which we can hold both concepts, the perspective of the realist and the perspective of the idealist?

What if we are being invited to recognize the reality of losses that can come with change,  as well as the emotions of pain, anger, and fear?  Yet also know the larger Reality that we are surrounded by a friendly Universe?

What if this larger knowing that we are at choice empowers and supports us to focus on the Reality that all things work together for good, even in the midst of our real circumstances.

For many of us, our experience gives us permission to say yes!

Looking For The Good

Just as we all are, I confess, I’m a work in progress. For more than 30 years I have been exposed to as a student/teacher/coach and spiritual practitioner of the New Thought/Ancient Wisdom teaching of “Look for the good”.

It is one of the principles that I have dedicated myself to practice. Yet I still have moments where I find myself focusing on what is rather than on what can be.

I’m much better now and thankfully catch myself much quicker. But back in the day, I learned a profound lesson about what it means to look for the good.

It was much easier for me to see the problem that needed to be corrected rather than the possibility. While I saw it as expressing what needed to be corrected, others saw it as criticism. Imagine that!

As I became aware of how that habit affected my relationships, especially with my husband, Pres, I began to pray and ask for help to change it. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for because you might get it, was certainly true in my case.

The answer that I got was/is common knowledge to most people, but remember I didn’t take the  Dale Carnegie course on How To Win Friends and Influence People, until the early ‘80s. Smiles. I trust you can see the humor.

The  one sentence answer which the Holy Spirit gave me, was, “Look for and praise the good first.” My response was, “ Huh! Can you repeat that please!”

The word in this sentence that helped me think “I can do this” is the word, first. That meant I could exercise my powers of discernment of what needed correcting, as long as I looked for the good and expressed it first.

I later discovered that one sentence encapsulated the Dale Carnegie Course. Have you noticed how the Holy Spirit has a way of gently guiding to the truth with a few words?

I know that answer sounds simple and in retrospect it is. However, when you have had a habit of believing that you are right and that it’s your responsibility to point out to others your perfect insight, it’s a pretty huge habit to change.

Nevertheless, I diligently began to practice looking for the good, especially with my husband and began to acknowledge him for qualities that I had taken for granted.

Initially, it took immense desire and commitment to change. I had to slow down speaking and heighten my attention in order to find the good I could express. The restraint required me to almost bite my tongue before expressing what in my opinion needed to be corrected.

To this day I can vividly recall my first experience of looking for the good and what happened. Pres had wallpapered our kitchen and the design on one of the sections wasn’t aligned with the next section.

So, with my new eyes in training,  I first noticed and commented on the beautiful job he had done. I also noticed the difference in his receptivity to my pointing out the misalignment.   

From my inspired understanding, I began to appreciate and verbalize my newly found way of seeing and expressing the awesome qualities in my husband.

Words of Acknowledgment and Appreciation

Since I was not trying to change him, but change a habit that was no longer serving me, I knew my intentions were pure when I would make comments like:

“Honey, I appreciate what a good provider and protector you are for me and the family.”

“Poopsie (my nickname for him), you are so creative, what a beautiful job you did on upholstering the ottoman.”

“Sweetheart, you are such a wonderful man of God. I am so proud to be married to a man who is dedicated to being in service to God and humanity the way you are. When you . . . . “  etc., etc.

Pres has made his transition to the next dimension of living, but it gives me goosebumps even now to recall the moment almost 50 years ago, when he said,  “I may not be that now, but if that’s the way you see me, I’ll be that tomorrow!”

That was an aha moment for me. I no longer had to practice faithing it until I made it.

Seeing how the power of expressing the actual and potential in my husband activated the desire within him to become more of what he truly was and what he came here to be was a transformative lesson and experience for me.

Additionally, and more importantly our relationship was uplifted to another level of romance, intimacy, and deeper love.

The biggest change occurred within me. So what changed for and in me? Am I a total idealist now? No, of course not, I’m much too curious for that.

For the most part, I may still see what needs correcting and have the impulse to point it out. But I find it much more rewarding when I remember to express gratitude or appreciation first.

Activating Potential Words
Activating Potential Words

As you might imagine, the practice of looking for the good also serves me in giving the realist part of me a break from the self-criticism I also had habitually heaped on myself.

I still experience moments when self-correcting is perceived as necessary. However, I am much more compassionate to myself and we know how that works, don’t we? It is reflected in my interactions with others.

Changing Your Perspective 101

Scripture informs us that life and death are in the power of the tongue, which means our words are powerful.

The consciousness from which we speak determines whether our words are activating the potential within our self and/or others, or neutralizing and perhaps making them or our self-worse.

Consider when something goes wrong and we say from a consciousness of  . . . “Of course!” . . . or “Wouldn’t you know it?” or  “Just my luck!” or “This always happens to me!”  We are sending out a message that bad things are expected to happen to us.

Because the Universe simply says yes, It hears this and sends us more.

Notice the meaning when we express using the same words from a different consciousness, where something we perceive as good happens, “Of course!”, “Wouldn’t you know it?”, “Just my luck!”, and “This always happens to me!”.  

Ah yes, it is a set-up to receive more, isn’t it!

If you want to expand your consciousness so that you are knowing that you are creating the conditions under which a potential thing can become actualized, consider experimenting with changing your perspective with different language:

Shadow Side of Praise and  Criticism

As an idealist/ realist remember both praise and criticism have a shadow side. If you need praise in order to be happy that is a setup for giving your power away. 

It is as important to receive personal acknowledgments, compliments, offerings of appreciation, and thanks as it is to give them. Instead of deflecting or dismissing them, simply say “Thank you.”

When you receive criticism, even when you have received appreciate, it is easy to give more attention to the criticism and allow it to have a negative impact on you. Instead, use it as feedback to grow, and simply say “Thank you.”

Giving and receiving appreciation may feel awkward initially, just like a muscle that hasn’t been called upon for a while. Simply keep up your efforts and soon it’ll become a natural and effortless habit.

Accept that genuine acknowledgment and appreciation are the attitudes that lift you to a higher altitude of consciousness, and a more fulfilling experience of life.

The following scriptures offer guidance regarding  the importance and power of words:

 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things…   — Matthew 12:35-37

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”   — Proverb 18:21  American King James Version

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”      — Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

“I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was. “  — Psalm 139:14     (Easy to Read Version)

I invite you to join me for 7 days of intentionally speaking words that activate the potential within yourself and within someone else.  

Meanwhile, I love hearing from you. Please comment in the comment box below. 

As we know, we are what we think all day long. Let’s align ourselves with the Infinite Source of Life and let Life flow through us as right action and true expression.

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LOL = Lots Of Love



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