Welcome back to another episode with Shannon Graham. In the last episode, we discussed unlocking our full potential, being honest about what we want, not ignoring red flags, and letting our results speak for themselves. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss potential, leadership, expressing ourselves, being responsible, and personal liberation.
How to Achieve a Higher Level of Potential
Shannon believes that we can do the impossible. “[The impossible is] something that has never been done before, and something that the majority of people on the planet believe cannot be done,” he said. In order to do things that “can’t be done,” we need to utilize our full potential.
“You could put the smartest people on the planet in a room for a week with one goal . . . to determine the peak of human potential. At the end of that week, the best they can tell you is that we either don’t know or that it’s unlimited. . . . So, it’s safe to say that we can be, do, have, [and] give way more than we do on a regular basis,” Shannon said.
As we discussed in episode one of this interview, most people don’t use all of their potential on a daily basis. Shannon explained that there are two ways to access a higher level of potential. The first is when life forces us into a moment where everything seems to be going wrong, and we don’t have the time, money, or resources, but we rise to the occasion and find a way to make it through. However, this peak isn’t sustainable because we didn’t intend for it to happen.
The second way to experience higher levels of human potential is more sustainable. This happens when we purposely choose to do things that we don’t know how to do. Since we are in a new situation, it forces us to use more of our potential and a higher level of thinking to solve problems and accomplish whatever we are trying to accomplish.
When President Kennedy announced that we were going to the moon, the technology was nowhere near where it needed to be for that. NASA had no idea that Kennedy was going to make that announcement, and it forced them to act quickly.
“When you endeavor to do things that have never been done before, it forces you into new levels of creativity, new levels of innovation, new levels of resourcefulness, and new levels of synergy. [It] actually becomes sustainable because you chose it,” Shannon said.
The Bannister Effect
In the 1950s, no one had ever run less than a four-minute mile. At the time, some people in the medical community thought that if someone did, they would explode. However, Roger Bannister thought it was possible. He worked hard and broke the record. The year he broke the record, 22 other people ran a sub-four-minute mile.
These people knew Bannister had done it, so it became very possible in their minds. It created a domino effect. They thought that if Bannister could do it, so could other people. “I’ve put a lot of thought into this,” Shannon said. “I still don’t understand the deep implications of that, but what I can tell you is that it’s very profound because it means one person can do one thing, one time, that’s never been done before, and that one domino can be the causation of an en masse potentiality upgrade.”
One person can change the world by doing the impossible because it opens everyone else’s minds to the impossible. They realize that they can elevate themselves as well.
Leadership is Passion
In Shannon’s book Expand, there is a section about how leadership is passion. This section resonated with me because of my work in passion marketing.
Shannon explained that in this section he discusses the concept that desire is expansion seeking to express itself. “Whatever we desire is ultimately the ‘bigness’ in us wanting to come out and play,” Shannon said.
Passion and desire usually go hand in hand. For example, if I have a passion to make the world a better place, I also have a desire to make the world a better place. “To live with passion also requires a person to have courage. I find that everything you truly desire, the best things in life that a person can want or have, are the function of courage; [they] exist on the other side of courage.To be passionate also requires courage,” Shannon said.
Courage doesn’t mean we’re not afraid. Courage is having fear and choosing to still go forward. It’s overcoming fear. In addition, courage is one of the most valuable human characteristics we can develop. “If you have courage,” Shannon said, “then you can take your passion and actually live it out. You can create your reality.”
If there is a monkey in the wild that sees some bananas have fallen from a tree, but it also sees a sleeping lion close to the bananas, that monkey is weighing the desire for the bananas and the fear of the lion.
Humans do the same thing; we weigh our desires and fears and calculate whether our desires are worth the fears that would hold us back. Most people predominantly make decisions based on their fears. They don’t want to experience pain, rejection, loss, etc. so they let fear of those things dictate their behavior. However, if our passion and desire is strong enough, we’ll do the things we’re afraid of anyway.
How does this relate to leadership? When we lead we need to not just lead from our own passions, but we also need to unlock the passion of those we are trying to lead because then they will not let their fears get in the way of doing great things with us.
“The number one job of a leader is to create more leaders,” Shannon said. Sometimes leadership is misunderstood and thought of as telling or showing others what to do. Leadership is more about “inspiring people to become leaders themselves,” he explained. “In order to be a leader, in order to have passion, you have to have courage. If a leader can lead with courage and passion, then ultimately that’s what they’re instilling in their people.”
Leaders should be an example of passion and courage, inspiring the people they lead to also have passion and courage.
Expressing Ourselves and What We Want
In the last episode, we discussed how knowing what we want can help us use a higher level of potential. Knowing what we want can also help us express ourselves. There is often a difference between who we show up as and who we’d like to show up as.
For example, millionaires and multi-millionaires often dress so people perceive them in a certain way—they want other people to know they are wealthy. Billionaires, on the other hand, tend to care less about their appearance or what they wear. One of Shannon’s favorite sayings is, “The person in the suit looks really important until you find out that they work for the person in pajamas.”
Millionaires and billionaires express themselves in different ways because they want different things. Self-expression is all about who we are, how we show up, and what we want. “The more honest we can be about [what we want], the more authentic we can be in our expression,” Shannon said.
If there was a man working a corporate nine-to-five job that he hated, the “responsible” thing, as the world defines it, would be to stay in that job to support his family or to contribute to society. However, this man hates this job, and his soul dies a little every day that he continues it. He may even have an unhealthy coping mechanism like drinking.
What if he woke up one day with the desire to start a business? He may think, “Being an entrepreneur is risky. It would require time and money upfront with no promise of anything.” Many people talk themselves out of something like this because of responsibility and a sense of security. However, Shannon said, “What most people would point at and say is irresponsible is typically the thing that is the most responsible thing for them to do. . . . Responsibility happens to be the thing that is the most toxic and keeps people the most stuck.”
If this man continues to suffer in his job, he is an example to his family of what “responsibility” looks like. He will perpetuate responsibility and likely will perpetuate suffering because of his example.
People in situations like this may feel trapped, or they may feel scared. But if they are suffering, they should end it. It may be hard at first, but we will almost always be happier pursuing something that we want, something that we are passionate about, than staying in what’s “safe.”
Shannon said people should quit their jobs “the instant they feel like they should.” Throughout the world and particularly in Western culture, people tend to stay in situations that aren’t helpful to them; jobs and relationships are typical examples of these situations.
“What an amazing place the world would be if we were so honest and courageous that when we felt that something was off, we immediately put an end to it,” Shannon said.
This doesn’t mean that as soon as something gets hard we should quit. Most things worth doing are hard, and we usually know when something is worth fighting for. However, if we know that something isn’t a fit for us, if we realize that our job isn’t right for us, we shouldn’t find reasons to justify staying with it and staying miserable. We should end the misery and move on to something better.
3 Keys to Personal Liberation
In Shannon’s book The Revolution of Self, he discusses the three keys to personal liberation. They are foundation, vision, and tools. If someone wants to build a house, they have to start with the foundation, not the roof. They also need a vision for what they want the house to be, what it will look like, how big it will be, how many floors it will have, etc. Lastly, they will need the right tools. I can’t break ground very effectively with a screwdriver; I need the appropriate tools. To learn more about these keys, check out Shannon’s book.
Thank you so much Shannon for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- When we endeavor to do things that have never been done before, it forces us into new levels of creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, and synergy. It allows us to achieve a higher level of potential on purpose.
- One person can change the world by doing the impossible because it opens everyone else’s minds to the impossible.
- Leaders should be an example of passion and courage, inspiring the people they lead to also have passion and courage.
- The more honest we can be about what we want, the more authentic we can be in our expression.
- Most things worth doing are hard, and we usually know when something is worth fighting for. However, if we know that something isn’t a fit for us, we shouldn’t find reasons to justify staying with it and staying miserable. We should end the misery and move on to something better.
- The three keys to personal liberation are foundation, vision, and tools.
Connect with Shannon
To learn more about or connect with Shannon:
- Connect on LinkedIn or Facebook
- Visit his website at ShannonGraham.com
- Check out his books The Revolution of Self and Expand