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Human Resource to Human Potential: The Evolution Solution

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Founder & Host of Heart of Change Podcast I Transformational Coach & Talent Professional I Positive energy, positive change




Evolution. It is good to remind ourselves that if we were looking at the ‘way we work’ from a bird’s eye view, it would look quite different than it does while we are immersed in our day-to-day tasks.


We would see there is a shift happening, a transformation within the workforce. When talking about people and work, specifically, I’d like us to take a closer look at our language and see if it’s still working for us.


Human Resource. Resources, to me, are important. We need them to sustain. They are an asset, valuable and something (or should I say someone?) we can tap into and use. There is no question that resources are vital to run a business. But are we continuing to put business before the people with this label, and is this the right approach?


John R. Commons, an American institutional economist, first coined the term “human resource” in his book The Distribution of Wealth, published in 1893. He didn’t expand much, only to produce the idea that specialists could be seen as some sort of capital resource. Humm…


Human potential, on the other hand, is the innate ability of every person to live and perform in alignment with their highest self. To explore potential vs. pure ambition and qualifications requires a more methodical and individualized approach. It requires different questions, and a value alignment between the organization and the worker.


I have a long-standing background under the human resource umbrella within talent acquisition. Recently, I have also moved into the transformational coaching space. The heart of transformational coaching is human potential. Currently, I operate under a blended approach amid my own personal transformation. I suppose it makes sense to live in shades of grey as we shift into our new absolute. The question is, could we be collectively ready to label ourselves as human potential? Something else?


As the proverbial work wheel continues to turn with more hiring, more administration, and more training of staff…. The workforce becomes transactional and a bit less ‘human.’ Luckily, as discussions around DEI, custom mobility tracks, mental health and work/life balance topics increase, our hearts are certainly in the right place. There is no question we are evolving as we speak. Exciting to think about.


The place to start with change is at the root. To me, how we frame the language around work is vital for our heart aligned topics to take hold. I challenge us to get further engaged in our evolution by carefully reconsidering our language as the ‘way we work’ continues to transform.


The infamous philosopher Sören Kierkegaard wrote, “Once you label me, you negate me.”

If we must leverage language, how about we start looking at ourselves as humans with potential vs. humans as resources? If we are going to place a label on an important part of the workforce, handling all things human, let’s put the people before the business and see how creativity, happiness, and productivity soar. Something to think about.


Let’s redefine, reframe, relabel and…most importantly, let’s evolve.


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