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Masking your potential


What's masking your potential? Ever heard someone say, 'it’s just who I am’. Well, what if it wasn’t and instead, it was just their personality? Your potential is governed in part by your personality. The exciting news is that your personality is not fixed. After all you’ve acquired it through life experiences, formal education, influential others and decisions to be a certain way. And if you acquired it, as effective as it might have been, you can choose to expand upon it, resulting in different behaviours and thereby changing your life.

As stated in, the word personality has its origins from Latin persona and "originally 'a mask, a false face,' such as those of wood or clay, covering the whole head, worn by the actors in later Roman theater.” In other words, a personality lasted as long as the performance. The Roman actors didn’t maintain their stage character after the play. They dropped it! And there is your challenge: what mask are you wearing that needs to be dropped? Honestly consider that an attitude of mind that served you formerly may not serve you in reaching your next level of performance. In fact, based on psychology it can’t, because you can only perform to the level of the self-image you hold of yourself.

In the dramatic 1988 feature film “The Man in the Iron Mask”, actor Leonardo DiCaprio plays a duel role of villain and hero. The story tells of identical twins separated at birth, one reigning as King Louis of France and the other, imprisoned for life concealed by an iron mask. In a daring plot, the prisoner escapes with the aid of the famous Three Musketeers. The plot thickens when the musketeers train the forgotten brother in order to replace his cruel, self-conceited royal twin. As training begins the humble, compassionate escapee says, “I wear the mask, it does not wear me”.

This is the essence of how we can grow and expand. We may have had to protect ourselves from trauma, pain and shortfalls with a persona, but we are free to the knowledge that it does not touch who we truly are: an unbounded spirit of potential. Conversely, we may have accolades of merit and yet, we don’t have to perch there: we can fly to new heights of possibility.

A growth mindset, as conceived by Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck, informs that you can change your capacities and talents with time. You are not as fixed as you might feel or believe. It’s not who you are, or destined to be. Rather, the research says it's who you decide to be and put effort into becoming. Talent is a myth. Effort is the reality.

Have you ever found yourself to be very angry about a person or situation? Here’s the transformational question, “If anger was just a mask, who would you be if you just took it off?” By the way, you can replace anger with any other self-defeating and or self-limiting emotion, and ask the question again with the newly inserted emotion.

Your potential is awaiting your decisions. Drop the masks and unleash the magnificence. What will you do with this knowledge and your own insights from it? Remember insight without execution is possibility on suspension. Drop the masks that bind you and set your potential free.