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What if No One Saw the Potential in J.K. Rowling, Justin Bieber, or Vince Papale?

by Michelle Emanuele

Everyone has potential. But sometimes that potential goes unrealized because others don’t recognize it.

In this blog, the first in a three-part series, we highlight three famous people—J.K. Rowling, Justin Bieber, and Vince Papale—who, though they have different stories, have one critical thing in common: someone else surfaced, activated, and accelerated their potential, which led to their becoming leaders in their respective fields.

Without that help, it’s likely that their potential would have gone untapped and overlooked.

To see more stories of famous people who benefited from the support of others to realize their potential, follow DDI on Twitter or search the hashtag #UnleashPotential.

JK RowlingJ.K. Rowling

“As soon as I knew what writers were, I wanted to be one,” said J.K. Rowling. You are probably familiar with the popular Harry Potter series of books telling the stories of wizards and witches, but do you know how the author who created this fictional world found success?

A single parent, devastated from the loss of her own mother, unemployed, dealing with a serious case of depression: Does that sound like the back story of someone who would become one of the world’s wealthiest women? According to this Business Insider article, J.K Rowling has an “incredible rags-to-riches story.”

Rowling faced many challenges. But in time someone recognized and unleashed her potential.

Though she was living in a tiny apartment and collecting welfare, Rowling continued to write about Hogwarts and the adventures of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Many submissions to publishers later, Rowling caught a break in 1997, when one finally agreed to publish her work.

Because one publisher believed in her and her fantasy world’s potential, Rowling went on to sell over 450 million books, earn multiple awards, and saw successful movies based on all seven of her Harry Potter books.

But what if Rowling decided to give up after her many hardships? Would she still be stuck in her little apartment living on what the government could provide? Would she have ended her life?

Because a single book publisher saw Rowling’s potential, she not only became a great success, but brought to the world a popular series that has charmed and ignited the imagination of countless millions of people. I bet that those publishers who turned down Rowling and her stories of Harry’s world are now kicking themselves!

You can learn more about J.K. Rowling’s story here.

Justin Bieber

In our dynamic, digital world, the Internet is a high-traffic avenue on which talented people can be discovered. At age 12, Justin Bieber became the personification of how talent can be found online.

Bieber had been singing and playing instruments all his life, when, in the late 2000s, Bieber and his mother began posting videos of him singing on YouTube. When one of the videos began attracting attention—garnering 100 views, then 1,000, then 10,000—he decided to post more videos!

Soon enough, according to this CBS interview, people started to contact him, including Scooter Braun, who would become his manager and help propel him to musical stardom.

Bieber displayed his talent and potential to be a marketable singer on YouTube, and Braun unleashed that potential by introducing Bieber to, and signing him to a record deal with, Usher, Bieber’s role model.

The rest, as they say, is history.

You can discover more about Bieber’s story here.

Vince Papale

A 30-year old bartender becomes an NFL player. Wait...what?

That’s right! Vince Papale, a teacher, part-time bartender, and a superfan of the Philadelphia Eagles, decided to act on impulse and try out for his favorite pro team.

Even though Papale hadn’t played football in college, he didn’t let his lack of experience with high-level competition deter him. He loved football, he loved the atmosphere surrounding the game, and most importantly, he loved the Eagles.

As you might already be aware if you saw Invincible, the movie based on his remarkable story, Papale went to the tryout and gave it his all.

And guess what happened to Papale? Even though few believed he had a chance, he made the team! He believed in himself and so did Dick Vermeil, the Eagles’ head coach. Vermeil unleashed Papale’s potential by giving him a chance to prove his worth.

You can read more about Papale’s story here.

We All Have Potential

Whether you are a chef, social media specialist, or auditor, you have potential to be an industry leader. Although it can be challenging to unleash leadership potential in your specific realm, it’s important to keep at it, network, and, with a little luck—who knows—maybe you could be the next Justin Bieber!

What’s more, within your organization, there are people with leadership potential who may not be in formal leadership roles. Surfacing, activating, and accelerating their potential begins with accepting the critical fact that everyone has potential.

Click here to learn more about how to unleash potential in your organization and download the new eBook, The Revolutionary Guide to Rethinking Leadership Potential.

Michelle Emanuele manages DDI’s international social presences on the company’s official accounts for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. She also acts as a resource for employees within the organization to learn about social media and its functions. Outside of her daily digital world, Michelle enjoys shopping for the best deals on clothing and spends time in the kitchen perfecting the Pinterest recipes she pins to her boards.

Posted: 16 Nov, 2017,
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