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Inferring for Potential


I am not sure if I am right in aspiring for the Executive position. My current portfolio & performance are nowhere close to the ideal. Maybe I need to be realistic in my expectation. Should I change my aspiration? ~ Senior Leader, FMCG

When we look at our aspirational roles, it's difficult to infer the right meaning based on reality today.


The definition of Inference is a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.


Evidence & reasoning are usually available for judging current performance.

So making inference(s) could get to be linear, with a clear cause & effect relationship.


Judging future potential is a different ball game altogether. There is no clear evidence available except a few behaviour demonstrations. The reasoning is non-linear. It may sometimes require a leap of faith.


When you are in doubt about a future career path, especially a path with high risk & return what can you do to develop clarity?


1. Get out of your head:


Inferring on your potential is hard when you are doing it all alone. You can of course supply information coming from self discovery. You can supplement it with Strengths assessments.However it will help if you can do a shared discovery with people who you trust deeply like a mentor or a coach who would tell the truth of your potential without trying to please you / criticise you. On the left you see is a Johari window that describes information known to self Vs others. Box 4 is the "unknown area" for both you and others and needs a shared discovery.

Johari window Pic Courtesy: Geektonight



2. Cross check your inference

Once you have made your discovery, whatever emerges on the negative, use Byron Katie's 4 questions

  1. Is it true?

  2. Is it absolutely true?

  3. How do you react if you believe the thought?

  4. Who would you be without that thought?

These questions will give you more clarity as you process them.


3. Gift yourself opportunities

Take risks and scout for opportunities to experience and experiment with your inference. This may need risk taking and a bit of stretch. Be willing to put the effort without knowing whether you can or cannot.


If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” ~ Richard Branson

4. Tolerate the timeline

Give yourself enough time. Most of us draw inferences based on our impatience and leave with - "these grapes are sour" feeling.


Know that ideas that change the world will take a lot of time from the world to catch up.


Its darkest just before dawn. So stay put to see what could emerge.


Have you ever been stuck with your aspiration?

What would you try differently to gauge your potential?










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