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Unlocking your true self: Differentiating talent, potential, and life purpose

Updated: Jun 1

Small girl holding a cricket bat in front of cricket stumpts
Dad encouraged my learning in sports, making it fun from an early age. He taught me the importance of practice and tracking progress.

Nick Kyrgios: Talented with potential

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios has received his fair share of criticism about being a wasted talent, with critics often claiming he has untapped potential. I am a fan of and have great respect for Kyrgios, his ability to continuously face harsh criticism is admirable and his talent is, undeniable. This caused me to wonder, is talent enough to reach one’s potential? What is the relationship between one’s potential and one’s purpose in life, can you reach one and not the other and is the relationship symbiotic? 

Unfulfilled childhood dream

My childhood dream was to become a professional tennis player. However, at 22 years old I realised my dream was unlikely to come to pass. I stopped playing and moved to another country to begin a new life adventure and left the racquet in the past. At the time I didn't allow myself the space necessary to grieve the loss of my lifelong dream. This meant everywhere I went thereafter I carried resentments and disappointments with me.

Fast forward to today, and a few months ago I picked up the racquet again. Returning to tennis after a long break, I rediscovered a deep joy and began reflecting on why my childhood dreams of a professional career in the sport never materialised. One night I cried unstoppable tears, as the grief I had never expressed over this major life disappointment was finally given the attention and opportunity for release. I contemplated why I was unable to turn my passion and talent into potential, was it bad luck, or was it not my destiny or life path, or were there other contributing factors that I hadn't yet considered?

What does reaching your full potential mean?

The word potential describes latent qualities or abilities that you may choose to develop and that may lead to your future success. Reaching your full potential in this context signifies realising your innate talents and fulfilling your life's purpose. 

The act of reaching your full or true potential is not linear; it’s dynamic, ongoing and ever evolving – now you can breathe a sign of relief, you are doing just fine, it's not over! Reaching full potential involves embracing challenge, exploring new possibilities, failing countless times, and continually honing your skills and talents. Reaching full potential also requires kismet, or luck, as there are a set of necessary conditions that must be present for potential to be nurtured in order for its realisation.

To the criticisers out there, not reaching potential has nothing to do with being lazy, or not trying hard enough. In actual fact, laziness and inability to put in adequate effort (or procrastination) are connected to deeper issues such as fear of failure or even fear of success.

Reasons why people don’t reach their potential

The underuse of talent can lead to feelings of regret and resentment and feelings of low-self worth and unworthiness can become perpetuated. This impacts one’s mental health and overall well-being and sabotages future attempts at reaching or re-attempting to reach said potential. The reasons why some of us don’t actualise our potential are multi-faceted and can include the following:

  • Psychological barriers (such as low self esteem, fear of failure, lack of discipline)

  • Lack of motivation, authentic desire, or true passion

  • External circumstances out of one’s control

  • Unresolved emotional issues

  • Lack of positive support systems

  • Conflicting personal priorities and values

  • Past experiences hampering beliefs

  • Unclear goals

  • Negative self-perceptions.

Aristotle’s concept of potentiality

Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle's idea of potentiality suggests that everything has hidden abilities that can develop when conditions are right, emphasising that nothing can stop something from reaching its full potential when these conditions are met. He believed that realising our potential requires deliberate practice, a supportive environment, and internal motivation, making the journey of growth and self-improvement the ultimate goal and joy of being human. I would thus assert that if all necessary conditions are not present, it indicates that it was never one’s destiny or life purpose to reach that potential.

Elements required to achieve potential

Venn diagram showing three elements needed tor each human potential
My interpretation of the elements required to reach one's potential, inspired by Aristotle's concept of potentiality.

Intrinsic motivation and innate desire:

the burning desire within, the inner drive and passion that fuels our drive to learn, grow, and strive for excellence. Fuelled by our authentic life purpose.

Strategic practice: deliberate and conscious effort we put into setting clear goals, outlining a path to achieve them, and actively managing our time, energy, and resources. This involves self-reflection, identifying strengths and weaknesses, looking at psychological barriers, defeating limiting belief patterns, prioritising tasks, and adapting to unexpected challenges. 

Supportive environment: external factors that nurture and encourage our growth; mentors, friends, and family, and a safe space to experiment and learn from mistakes.

The overlapping areas between these circles represent the synergistic effect of combining these elements. Ultimately, it's the intersection of all three circles – intrinsic motivation, a supportive environment, and strategic practice – that creates the perfect cocktail for unlocking our full potential.

Kyrgios and Patrick Mouratoglou talk potential and talent, on Good Trouble podcast

On the podcast Hana Kuma’s Good Trouble, host Kyrgios interviews renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who coached Serena Williams through some of the best years of her career. In the podcast, Mouratoglou addresses Kyrgios’ talent and potential, suggesting that Kyrgios has not yet reached his potential due to an unwillingness or inability to let go of one aspect of his identity in place of another. Mouratoglou suggests that Kyrgios is harbouring a deep-seated fear that he won't be able to actualise his proposed potential of becoming a grand slam champion. This fear is what one would assume then controls how disciplined or hard working or open to change Kyrgios is, and which dictates whether Kyrgios remains in the comfort zone, and stuck in the identity of: talented player with potential.

Is Mouratolgou right? Is Kyrgios afraid of failure and stuck in a comfort zone, paralysed by fear and thus unable to truly reach his potential? Or could it be argued that Kyrgios lacks some of the other critical elements to actualise the potential that others indicate he is failing to reach? Factors such as intrinsic motivation, an innate desire or passion for the sport, and an inability to overcome limiting self-beliefs. 

A more pertinent question is, is there anything fundamentally wrong with simply being talented? The answer is subjective and will change based on one's philosophical and spiritual views on the world. While Kyrgios remains being a talented player with potential, it has granted him space and opportunity to explore other areas of his talents and potential. For instance, can we talk about Kyrgios' talent as an interview host? It could be argued that Kyrgios is exploring other latent talents and reaching his potential in other areas of his life. No one can say what another's true life path is, nor whether or not they have or haven't met their true potential, it's a very personal journey and realisation.

Grief work: A powerful tool for realising your potential

Grief work, the emotional process of dealing with both real and perceived losses, serves as a powerful catalyst for personal growth and unlocking hidden potential. By confronting the pain and vulnerability that grief brings, we are forced to face our own mortality and the fleeting nature of life, leading us to re-evaluate our priorities, shed limiting beliefs, and embrace authenticity.

Though painful, grieving provides an opportunity to shed the baggage of the past, making space for new growth and possibilities. It forces us to confront our deepest fears and insecurities, inspiring personal transformation. By acknowledging and honouring our emotions, we break free from self-doubt and limiting beliefs. This vulnerability fosters greater self-awareness and empathy, empowering us to pursue our passions with conviction and resilience. Ultimately, grief work is about thriving after loss, realising our full potential, and unleashing previously dormant talents and passions.

Sound therapy: Key to understanding and finding peace with your potential

Sound therapy, by directly interacting with the brain and nervous system, is a powerful tool for unlocking our potential. The frequencies and vibrations of sound waves resonate with our physical and energetic bodies, triggering physiological and psychological responses that can calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote deep relaxation, creating an optimal environment for self-discovery and growth. By dissolving limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and releasing stuck grief sound therapy fosters clarity and self-awareness, empowering us to connect with our inner wisdom and access untapped talents and abilities.

Additionally, the rhythmic patterns and harmonic structures of sound can synchronise brainwave activity, enhancing creativity, intuition, and mental focus. By harmonising our internal frequencies, sound therapy can elevate our state of consciousness, allowing us to tap into higher levels of perception and access a broader range of possibilities. This synchronisation helps in creating a balanced mental state, paving the way for enhanced cognitive functions and deeper insights. The ability of sound therapy to soothe, heal, and awaken our potential makes it a profound tool for personal transformation. By promoting relaxation, clarity, and elevated consciousness, sound therapy enables us to align with our true purpose and realise our full potential.

The intersection of destiny, life purpose and reaching one's full potential

Destiny, often perceived as a preordained path, provides a sense of direction and purpose, guiding individuals towards their ultimate goals. Reaching one's full potential, on the other hand, involves the continuous process of self-discovery, personal development, and the cultivation of talents and abilities. When these two concepts intersect, the journey of self-actualisation becomes deeply meaningful, as individuals not only strive to maximise their skills and talents but also fulfil their unique purpose in life. This convergence creates a profound sense of fulfilment, where the realisation of one's potential is seen as living out one's true destiny. It is the harmonious alignment of one's inherent capabilities and their life purpose. The intersection between these two concepts lies in the balance between acceptance of what is and striving for what could be. 

Potential is a subjective and elusive notion, making it impossible to definitively assert whether one has reached theirs. Instead of dwelling on this abstract concept, it would be more beneficial to focus on finding activities that bring genuine meaning, purpose, and personal fulfilment. Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness and inner peace should be prioritised over a constantly shifting and unattainable ideal of potential.

A few moments ago, I got home from having played my first competitive tennis match in more than twenty years. I appreciate coming full circle of being back on the court. I consider the intersection of my talent, my potential and my life purpose and I cast my mind back to a moment in today's game, where I hit a ripping cross-court back hand winner, at the time I couldn't help but smile to myself and to the little girl inside of me and I thought: the dream is only over when I say it is.


If you feel you are being held back and not reaching the potential or talent you believe you possess, or maybe you just feel unsatisfied with your life and want to explore what may be keeping you unfulfilled, email us and let’s talk, or if you are ready, book now for a private or group session.

If you enjoyed reading this article leave a comment below. The more we share our collective experiences the more we help each other learn, grow and heal. Heated discussion is always welcomed, as that makes us better more multi-dimensional humans, just remember to be respectful and kind-hearted. 


This article was written by Nicole Sultana, she holds a Post Graduate Degree in Spiritual Care, a Bach. App. Science in Sports Science/Human Movement, is a Certified Therapeutic Sound Practitioner and a Death Doula. She is the founder of Sound Consciousness, a company who provides wellbeing strategies and therapeutic sound practices to help individuals reach peak levels of performance whether they wish to excel in their professional lives, be the best partner they can be, or wish to create the life of their dreams. 


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