Thursday 22nd June 2023

Realising your potential

How do we realise our potential for our whole selves? Annemarie Roberts reveals some key practical steps she uses to realise her potential...

Realising your potential

by Annemarie Roberts, Moat Homes

What a great topic, and I have been scratching my head on where to even start with this one?! Because you (and I) probably have our work hats on, we might straight away jump to think about how we realise our potential at work. But more and more we are now encouraged, and should think of, how do we realise our potential for our whole selves. Whether that is to find work life balance, or to succeed in some extra curricular activity or being a good parent (well good enough so that only minimal therapy will be needed to right all my parenting wrongs!).  

But where to start?

I stumbled upon this quote recently by Louis E Boone, a novelist.

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.”

I have so many conversations with people (yes, I am a real chatter), including some really competent women and friends, where they are so eager to do something, but they are tethering on that precipice, just not quite able to take that leap over the cliff edge.  

We all fall into this category from time to time, even the bravest (or the craziest) of souls. That is why surrounding yourself with the right people is so important, especially if you are someone that needs that little bit of a nudge (or perhaps quite a firm push!). Having a mentor or coach can really benefit you.  

Let’s get practical here. How do you actually get yourself a coach or mentor? Many work places now run schemes on this, so often just asking your People team at work can yield some results. Often there are opportunities for a coach through a work scheme. When looking for a mentor, think about what exactly it is that you are after. I have spoken to so many people in my career, many through introductions or networking events – but I am specific, I tell them what they have done that I am interested in, and whether I can ask their advice. I have done this so many times, and I have yet to be ignored or given a “no” which still surprise me today. I teach my children regularly: if you ask nicely in life, you will almost always get yes as an answer. So I continue to practice what I preach and just today I was reaching out to two new people for some insight and advice, and in fact an CIO at another housing association answered me within minutes. Result!  

So, back to realising your potential, here are some key practical steps I have taken in my life that has helped me achieve some of my potential. (And yes, there is lots more of untapped potential waiting to be tapped still.) 

  1. You need to bring it to the forefront of your mind: be clear that you want to be the type of person who is going to realise their own potential. Some of it can happen organically, but I think you will be more successful if you call this out to yourself and decide that this is something you want to be part of your approach to life. 2.    Getting a coach/mentor/supportive friend – it is so important to surround yourself with people that will inspire you, support you or be your personal cheerleader.
  2. Getting a coach/mentor/supportive friend – it is so important to surround yourself with people that will inspire you, support you or be your personal cheerleader.
  3. Set yourself some clear goals. I have set many over the years. I wanted to do  my MBA and have a management role before I started my family, which I just about managed. I signed up for it, without knowing how I will pay for it, but I made it work – I gave up my personal life for a while, didn’t spend any money and in fact I recall eating many a dry Marmite sandwich without butter so I could finish my course in record speed. I know so many other brave stories, a fellow mum in my town has gone back to full time uni with three young kids, and she is managing it. What an inspiration. One of my next work goals was to be an executive director by the time I reached 40, and I achieved that with 3 months to spare. I also set myself goals in my personal life, I have done triathlons, ran the London marathon and did the national 3 peak challenge in 24 hours. (I still have a dodgy toe nail to show for that event!)   Our brains are set up in different ways, but an approach that works for me is to start with the end goal in mind, and then commit to it (pay for it/sign up for it): think BIG. I then work backwards to see what obstacles I need to remove to reach that goal or what positive action I need to take to achieve that goal. I find that more than often where my path has come across friends and colleagues (and my husband actually) they start with all the things that stand in the way of their goal/dream. If you fall into that camp, I challenge you today to try a different approach. It will take a bit of bravery, and stepping outside your comfort zone – but think about the end result, sign up to that and then work out how you are going to make it happen.  
  4. Acknowledge that sometimes it will be easy, and things might fall in your lap or you will be at the right place at the right time, but other times it could be hard, you might have to push yourself and your boundaries a little bit. But as they say, high risk high rewards – I promise you it will pay off. And remember, success isn’t a straight line, there might be a few twist in turns in your way forward.
  5. Sometimes we will face adversity. That is a given. I really love the quote by Nelson Mandela that says “I never lose. I either win or learn.” How powerful is that and what a positive lens to see life and its challenges through. So, even if you fail or things don’t go your way, see it as an opportunity to learn from that process. I will give you another one of my examples. A few years back I applied for an executive post, as an internal applicant. I was long listed, but not shortlisted. Someone asked me how I feel about “not getting the job” (eg failing). I said, it all depends on how you measure success. For me it was about getting feedback on my CV and application, which I got = that application for me was a success. In fact, I got to know one of the recruiters really well during the process and she gave me some excellent tips for getting to that executive level role I was after. And guess what, I took it on board, listen, implemented a few things and the next post I applied for at that level, I was successful and got the dream job.  Yes, the one I got just before my 40th.
  6. Personal development plans. Don’t they sound boring! And as someone who has line managed many people over the years, I am still surprised how few people have one of these, or think of it in such a structured way, even at a senior level. Again, I work better with a plan. If I don’t have it written down and look at it every month and just try and tick one or two items off, it will never happen. Writing regular blogs is actually on my personal development plan, so tick! Also, these are not just for work: I now have a list of things I want to achieve before I am 50 which has been lovely to start to craft, and soon will have to move into delivery phase (well, I have 7 years so a fair bit of time to get going!).  
  7. I want to end with a famous misquote from Darwin. He never said it is about survival of the fittest, actually. Fact check done. He said, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent… but the one most responsive and adaptable to change”. I leave you with that. I am definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am agile, I learn quickly, I know my weaknesses and have strategies in place to plug those holes, I adapt, I see the big picture, I take risks, someone once called me a professional winger, which I carry as a badge of honour.

Get your vision board out, set your goals. Manifest them. Take some steps, get some support / fan club….. ask yourself: what is the worse that can happen? 


Annemarie Roberts is our newly appointed Ambassador for the WISH South East board. She brings fourteen years of industry experience to our team, having worked across various roles in the Social Housing sector. Annemarie has gone from entering the sector to being an Executive Director at Moat Homes within ten years, as a product of hard work, resilience and dedication.

With a passion for supporting, enabling and encouraging people to not only realise but also grow into their full potential. She has identified this to be her life purpose, with aims to encourage the sharing of experiences with each other to learn, grow and develop confidence.


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