Who doesn’t want to perform admirably at work and enjoy an exciting career? We all want to move ahead and be rewarded for our accomplishments. We all want to develop our talents and skills and be respected. We’d also like to find meaning in our work. But today’s fast-paced, highly competitive world of work is challenging. It isn’t easy to make oneself into a superior performer. In truth, most people
do not come anywhere near reaching their full potential when it comes to workplace effectiveness.

Despite their best intentions and worthy efforts to improve themselves, many people fall short of being the superior performers they would like to be. They fall behind others who actually outperform them. They do not move ahead. They end up earning less money than they feel they are worth. Their jobs do not bring them the satisfaction they crave. What could be the difficulty? What holds people back from performing better in the workplace?

We all stumble from time to time

The truth is that from time to time everyone will stumble over some personal flaw and fall flat on his or her face. We are all vulnerable to selfdefeating tendencies that can hurt us and hold us back. While others are the source of much of the pain and irritation we encounter at work, and while circumstances often conspire against us, it is we ourselves who are at the heart of our difficulties. Even the best of us will do things now and then that end up making us small, unproductive, dissatisfied.

Life for human beings involves far more than the physiological processes of breathing, blood circulation, digestion, and reproduction. Unlike lower life forms that exist and function in a seemingly preprogrammed way established by what we believe to be genetic coding and instinct, human life involves more than mere physiology. Humans also live on another level, in another dimension. They have both an outside and an inside—they can assimilate more than just molecules of oxygen and food; they can be changed by ideas and they can create ideas and objects. Whereas one bird or plant or fish or insect of a species is very much like the others of that species, we cannot say this of people. Each person is strikingly unique.

We are all amazing beings

Each person has a distinctive capacity for memory, self-consciousness, thoughtfulness, purposefulness, affection, and creative expression. The differences that exist between people arise not so much from what each is given in terms of physical endowments but from what each person does with his or her native abilities. While some of our uniqueness can be accounted for by our differing physiological attributes, most of it comes from what we make of ourselves, from how we choose to shape our whole personality.

It is worth noting that each human being is capable of doing well or poorly with his or her self. Humans have the power to make themselves into something admirable or allow themselves to degenerate into something despicable. Humans are unique in that they are the only living species with the capacity to act in both self-destructive and self-nurturing ways, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. In other
words, humans can choose to act in ways that make themselves either more or less fully human depending on how well they use or don’t use their human capabilities, and whether they develop them or let them deteriorate.

Be the person you want to be

Whereas plants and animals develop into the creatures they were designed to become from birth, humans have the unique capacity and opportunity to shape themselves into the personalities they would like to become. These basic ideas lead to an important insight: We are self-creating creatures who work with what nature gives us and we shape ourselves into the persons we are capable of becoming.