Top Ten Ways to Help People Realize Their Potential

Written by Michael Angier

Looking for direction?

One of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others in living at our highest and best. Whether we’re parents, partners, friends or leaders, it’s incumbent upon us to help others to live as close to their unique potential as we can.

With everything we say and do, we’re influencing — positively or negatively — the people we care about. The ideal is to do this with consideration and intention.

Here are ten ways you can help others see and realize the best that’s within them:

1. Believe in them
We all have self-doubts from time to time. Our confidence is shaken. We lack the faith in our talents and skills to go for an important promotion or launch a new initiative. Having someone believe in you at these times is priceless. The stories of great men and women are saturated with examples of someone who believed in them even when they didn’t fully believe in themselves.

2. Encourage them
“You can do it.” “I know you can.” These are words that are all-too-infrequently voiced. Sincere encouragement can go a long way in helping someone stay the course. The more specific you are, the better the results. “I remember when you got through your slump last year and ended up winning the sales contest. I’m willing to bet that you’ll do even better this time.”

3. Expect a lot
We’re often told not to get our hopes up. We’re encouraged to have REALISTIC expectations. But when it comes to helping others operate at their best, we sometimes have to up-level our expectations. This can be taken to extremes, but there are many times when a teacher, a parent or even a boss has required more of us than we thought we were capable. And we’ve risen to the challenge which enabled us to see further than before.

4. Tell the truth
And tell it with compassion. We often avoid telling the hard truth because we don’t want to upset anyone. We want to be NICE. But telling the truth is a loving act. You may be the only person who can or will say to another what needs to be said. And you can confront someone without being combative.

5. Be a role model
One of the best ways we influence is by our own actions. Who we are speaks much more loudly than what we say. Don’t think that people aren’t watching you. They are. And they’re registering everything about you consciously and unconsciously. We automatically emulate our role models. And we’re ALL role models to someone so let’s be good ones.

6. Share yourself
Too often, we miss the value of sharing our failings. We don’t want to be vulnerable so we hold back. In doing so, we deprive others of our experience, our learning and our humanity. When you share from your own experience — especially your failures — you increase empathy, you’re more approachable and you increase your relatability to others.

7. Challenge them
The word “challenge” has some negative connotations. The meaning we’re using here is, “a test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.” We all need to be challenged from time to time. Doing it for another is an art form. Go too far and it will backfire. Go too easy and you will appear patronizing. Remind people of their commitment to being their best and state your challenge. “I challenge you to overcome these unimportant opinions and get on with the real task at hand, get the job done, make the commitment, etc.”

8. Ask good questions
A good therapist or coach doesn’t tell their clients what to do. They ask good questions in order for the client to understand themselves better, to get clear on what the issue is and from there to make good choices. You can do the same. By asking elegant questions, you cause people to think and come up with solutions. They’ll appreciate it. Gary Lockwood has a good article about this called Asking Intelligent Questions with Impact.

9. Acknowledge them
You find what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the best in someone, you’ll see it. If you’re looking for their failings, you’ll see those. Catch people doing things right and tell them. When we acknowledge the good deeds of others, they tend to do more of them. Write a note. Send a card. Give them a call. Praise them in front of others.

10. Spend time with them
We love what we give our time to. By devoting your most precious resource (time) to another individual, you’re showing them that you truly value them and your relationship with them. Invest time in your relationships; it’s what life is made of.

It’s hard to get what you want if you don’t know what you want.


19 Responses to “Top Ten Ways to Help People Realize Their Potential”

  • Chala Chiracho says:

    May God Bless you and yours all! No Potential exist for oneself. We all are responsible to share. I am one of the people who committed to share my potential. How can you help me to do so? Thank you for your response.

  • Hi am sandra.. and I make bold to say that your article was awesomely helpful. Pls contact me with the email above I will like to share a thought with you.

  • Nilesh Parakh says:

    R/s Author,
    THANKS for writing such a nice article. I will like to read more such article. In any part of life if I can return back thelp with interest then I will be thank full to you. If you forgot me in happiness then thats OK but please don’t in sorrow time.

  • Tati :) says:

    helped alot

  • Brenda Miller says:

    Thanks so much, Michael, for some wonderful suggestions on how to motivate people to be their best. And thank you to each one of you who posted your thoughts on how Michael’s article affected you!

  • mariah says:

    was the essay a contest?

  • Thanks for using my article and thanks for all the nice comments. There are many more Top Ten articles at along with free “Ten Keys to Personal Effectiveness”.

  • Rowan says:

    This website helped.

  • bianka says:


  • fatih says:

    this helped me

  • Soph says:

    Oh, this is wonderful! Thank you so much for this!! :o

  • Alfred says:

    Hi to all who were inspired by this article. I just printed out a hard-copy to post in my home office. Of these 10 points, number 8 may be the one I need to learn. To “ask a question that will stimulate introspection” takes careful thought. Number 10 sums up all of them, in that we will spend time with those people we choose to love, and that includes spending time by using points 1-9.
    I am thinking of how Jesus spent time with His disciples, especially with Peter, and saw a potential that was worth developing. It behooves us to take this lesson to heart and to think of how God wants to use us, and how we can make a difference in this world by helping others to realize their potential!!!
    Only as I go forward in actually living this, will it benefit someone!

  • Faith says:

    Love it I used lots of it as help for an essay I am doing.

  • Trevor Close says:


  • tara says:

    very good page

  • desserai smith says:

    very well said

  • Katie says:

    These are great ways!! Ill try them out later on my friends!!!

  • Great essay I loved it

  • becca says:

    these are really good tips for people to realize their potential in life.

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