Human Potential: Unlocked

By: | |

“Within us, we have this amazing potential waiting to be unlocked.” – Ana Melikian

I had the pleasure of speaking with Tammy Gooler Loeb, host of the Work from the Inside Out podcast, about my love of personal development and how that led to where I am today.

We discuss: 

  • How the systems around us shape our perception 
  • Challenging weaknesses and leveraging strengths
  • Navigating the messiness of change

How the systems around us shape our perception

How the systems around us shape our perception

Anyone who has left home understands the culture shock that often follows. My experience was no different when I went from living near my family in a small Portuguese village to studying psychology in England. 

The “systems” I grew up in—enthusiastic greetings with hugs and duel kisses, even during first introductions, boisterous speaking patterns, and so on—proved out of place among the more reserved English folk! 

When I started traveling, I began to understand how much our environments play into how we operate in the world and what that means developmentally.

While completing a master's program in psychotherapy for two years in Salamanca, Spain, I learned the ins and outs of systemic therapy. This style of counsel presented a new way of looking at healing and seeing the world. It’s not outrageous to admit that traditional psychology is quite individualistic—with systemic therapy, we look at the whole culture's influence on who we are. 

Learning different cultures and “Playbooks” translates into common challenges in business today. Much like we consider outside influences and patterns in systemic therapy, reaching the core of a company issue takes looking at a zoomed-out view first. 

Why zooming out is not enough on its own

Today, we’re writing the playbook as we go, as cultures shift and worker expectations change, à la Dorothy’s “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!” 

Systems in the business world are changing that fast. With all of the outside influences taking their swings, it’s critical to know our internal compass and values. Zooming out is only as effective as the inner work and mindset we’ve curated. There must be a balance between these two practices.

Challenging weaknesses and leveraging strengths

Challenging weaknesses and leveraging strengths

Studying and living among different cultures inspired new perceptions and pushed me to face my lack of strength around languages due to my dyslexia. I tossed myself into the pool before I knew how to swim and figured it out as I went.

At the same time, I continued to learn about my interests and used my natural capacity for working with technology to elevate my experience in school and beyond. Many peers and colleagues were not keen on tech—I was more than glad to take it off their hands!

My innate growth mindset propelled me to adapt and persevere despite uncharted territory, and that is the mindset I still use today in everything I aim to accomplish.

We must play into our strengths, yes—but we cannot let our weaknesses stop us from growing and achieving our goals. We must resist the propensity to be imprisoned by our frame of mind and believed limitations. 

If I had let my weakness win, I would not have studied in Spain for fear of learning Spanish and would have missed out on a life-altering program.

Of course, we’re not throwing ourselves into the middle of the ocean during a storm without knowing how to swim. It’s important to create a safe environment to learn and challenge ourselves. But either way, we have to jump.

If we’re only willing to try something that has a high probability of success, we leave a lot on the table. We have to learn, and the process of learning and changing is messy.

Navigating the messiness of change

Unlock your potential

After defending my dissertation and completing my Ph.D. in psychology, I was on track to continue working in academia and psychotherapy. And yet, after meeting my future husband at a conference, I found myself getting married and moving to America a few years later.

My psychology license did not transfer to the States, and I faced the possibility of starting my Ph.D. again from the beginning to do the work I loved. It was during that confusion and chaos that I learned about life coaching. 

Through working with a life coach and determining my goals and values, what was central for me, I realized that coaching as a profession might be the answer I was looking for. I had found another way of doing what I love.

After getting my coach training and certifications, there was still one problem to solve: Clients. Where were they? 

When in Portugal, I had never had to market or solicit—people knew me and came to me. All I needed was business cards! In the States, I had to adapt and build my network from the ground up. During that pursuit, I read Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port, started working with him, and learned the art of business coaching. 

Today, I pull from my roots of psychology, positive psychology, and more to help professionals unlock their full potential and take charge of their lives—no matter how messy it may seem. 

Can you remember a time you challenged a weakness in yourself? What were the results?

Be sure to check out my full episode with Tammy for further insight into unlocking human potential!