“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

Crossing the Plateau of Latent Potential

A beautiful sunset
A beautiful sunset

There are times when we all get stuck on the plateau of latent potential. Earlier this month, I almost gave up on my small publishing business. It had been going for over five years and we still weren’t seeing sustainable results. I had the sad chat with my staff and then I spent a day grieving the lost dream. But fortunately I didn’t have time to do anything permanent.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time. Thomas Edison

Fast forward five days and I received two pieces of news that have the potential to turn everything around.

A dear friend reminded me that I had just cracked the Plateau of Latent Potential and now results would escalate. Crossing the plateau of latent potential is critical to building good habits and achieving goals because this is where the true transformation happens. It’s also key to manage our expectations. Our culture has raised us on the concept of ‘overnight success’.

It took about 10 years’ time for Shopify to be an overnight success. – Tobias Lutke

We expect results to be, if not overnight, at least linear, but the reality is they tend to be exponential. A slow burn for a period of time and then a sudden burst of results. As James Clear highlights in his book Atomic Habits, the plateau of latent potential is the stage where you continue to put in effort, but you do not see immediate results. Clear calls this delta between expected results and actual results the Valley of Disappointment. It can be discouraging, and many people give up at this stage.

However, those who persist and continue to put in the work will eventually see the results they desire.

The plateau of latent potential is the stage where habits become ingrained and automatic. It is where the small changes you make in your daily routine begin to add up and compound over time. Clear uses the example of an ice cube to illustrate this concept. If you have an ice cube sitting at room temperature, it will not melt immediately when you raise the temperature slightly. However, if you continue to raise the temperature, the ice cube will eventually melt. The same is true of building good habits, a business, and achieving fitness goals. And it’s how books get written and readerships built.

Five years seemed like a very long time on the plateau, but sticking with it has proven to be the right decision!

Don’t quit too soon!

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