Identifying your true potential — 5 questions to ask yourself

Rajiv Srivatsa @telljeeves
Published in
6 min readMay 17, 2020


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The second strategy to living your #OneLife as per the #OneLife Theory is to live life to your true potential.

(Strategy 1 is discussed here in the 5 Regrets of the Dying)

(Introduction to OneLife Theory is here and here)

The extent of happiness that we have in our life is inversely dependent on the gap that we perceive between the life that we ought to live (as per our mind) and the life that we are actually living. If the gap is too much, then you will be very unhappy. If you are up and above on this gap, then you would live a fantastic life.

To get to understand this gap, it’s first important to get an assessment of our own potential — across various aspects of our life. By potential, I don’t mean just the work aspect of life, but also the personal and health aspects of life.

There are 5 questions that you can ask yourself to determine / get to a view of this potential.

1. What do you want people to read in your eulogy?

Remember — this is not what you want them to perceive you as. This is genuinely what you feel you should be, or what you are — in an unhindered honest avatar. These could be adjectives / nouns — e.g. ‘great dad’, ‘helpful friend’, ‘wanderlust’, ‘dream coach’, ‘what a body!’, or anything that you think determines you. There’s no pre-defined list — in terms of either the quality or the number of such words.

For e.g. for me personally — I have always been a Jack of all trades, and loved creating stuff, and being nice to people. I don’t know any other way of existence. Hence, some of the words that I personally would want include ‘foodie’, ‘awesome dad’, ‘great lover’, ‘lived it up in life!’, ‘happy’, ‘laughing’, ‘startups’, ‘product’, ‘coach’, ‘wanderlust’, ‘positive’, etc. Each of these words comes of course with further future actions that I need to take, but I am quite clear that I want to be associated with a lot of energetic / positive words. A part of me doing this entire OneLife Theory podcast is to also spread the positivity.

2. When were you most passionate about what you were doing?

There would have been times in your past life (till that point) where you would have done something where you are completely immersed in doing it, or in the flow of that activity. It could have been while you were in love for the first time, or doing a particular kind of a job, or being in the midst of a set of people, or just about any conscious active activity that’s related to work or life. A thought out life and achieving your potential will typically involve making sure some of those moments can be part of the life you draw out for yourself.

For e.g. for me personally, the times I have spent with my friends, the time I have been in love, the time with my kid, the time I spent creating products, successful people, and creating impact at scale, and the times I have talked about life and happiness, and the time I have travelled — have all allowed me be in the flow of things — to an extent that I have really given some of my best work and efforts too. I wish to carry over a lot of that to my life continuing forward.

3. When were you most successful in whatever you were doing?

The other aspect of looking at your life till this point is to understand what you have been successful at. Some of these may overlap with areas where you have full passion, while some others may not fully overlap. Either ways, it’s a good marker to understand what you are capable of doing, albeit in an indirect way.

The entire interaction with startups, founders, being a coach, helping others avoid the mistakes I have committed on work or life, writing out / sharing my thoughts with a wider audience etc. — have all been activities that I have approached with some initial hesitation or doubt, but the more I have done those activities, the more I have been able to create reasonable value for others or myself. Merging some of these with my passion areas or developing passion around these topics too is something that I am actively engaged upon.

4. Who are your role models in life that you want to emulate?

There are different people that you encounter — some celebrated icons, and some people from your immediate friends and family network — who have all shown certain traits and behaviours that you have wanted to emulate. While every human comes with their own complex set of characters that may also show some faults, it’s important for all of us to see them for their strengths than their weakness, and emulate that particular behaviour in your role model.

For me, I have had 3 sets of role models —

  • Entrepreneurs — like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg — I have always loved creating from scratch from very early on — from my IIT days where I wrote a game, to Infosys where I had one of the largest personal websites inside entire Infosys, to IIMB where I created the intranet, to Yahoo! where I initiated a bunch of new products to Urban Ladder — almost always, these illustrious folks and their lives and their creations have been enormously helpful.
  • Happiness / Creativity ‘spreaders’ — These are people who use public platforms and their creativity to spread happiness in some form — these could be Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Shetty, even many aspects of Sadhguru, standup comedians, musical geniuses like A R Rahman, Ilayaraja — the reason for this set is because I strongly believe creative folks are a unique set of people — like the entrepreneurs — who are keeping the world happy, creative and spread positivity in their own way.
  • The calm folks — Amongst all of the above, it’s easy to get lost in the extremes of their personality or their creations — but there’s a level head that needs to give perspective on the ups and downs of life — here, the philosophers and the role models of peace — Naval Ravikant, the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, and Mother Teresa, and even closer home, a bunch of my friends, managers, people around — have been able to give perspective on looking at life with far more equanimity.

5. What are your traits/behaviours from achieving this potential?

Unless you understand your gaps and weaknesses, you can never get to fixing them and achieving your potential. In this regard, it’s good to take honest assessment of people around you in all walks of life, and patiently listen, without a defence mechanism.

Personally, analysis / paralysis, quick boredom, and lethargy / indecisiveness have plagued me in some form or the other. In fact, till just around a month back (around March2020, around the start of the lockdown), I was probably the worst on many fronts in life. It has taken me a lockdown to get to some level of self-awareness, and even get to some of these faults. I am still some way to go in terms of fixing them all, but at least the journey has started.

Episode 5 of the OneLife Theory podcast that talks about this in detail is here.

The Spotify podcast link on Episode 5 is here too.

Please share the podcast / Youtube links with your contacts and comment / like if you are able to relate to these. That way, the OneLife Theory can spread to a wider audience.



Rajiv Srivatsa @telljeeves

Partner at @Antler India. Co-founder Urban Ladder. Write on Startups and Happiness. Podcast @OneLifeTheory. Jack of all trades, master of none!