The meme potential is particularly pervasive in our success-driven society. A bright young kid has "a lot of potential"; a kid that struggles isn't "living up to his potential"; a business venture is "potentially lucrative." We live in potentials like we live in hopes and dreams, praying to turn them into tomorrow's actuals and realizations.
What if we stood a chance to reach this impossibly perfect target in a single life time? It would be the equivalent of never making a single wrong move at every choice point in life. We'd never have a restrictive thought. We'd never back down from a challenge. In every moment we would always chose and push through and make every second better than the last. We would each be the Steve Jobs of our respective niche and passion. We would already have flying cars, solved the earths more perplexing societal problems, and live in a world full of the most awe-inspiring art. After all, we'd essentially all be artists of our craft.
Would their be setbacks? Yes—I don't think it's possible to completely avoid life's surprises and accidents. Yet amidst adversity would be more opportunities to experience, to learn, and to grow from.
Between our potentials and our actuals remains the gap. And even though I consider myself a fairly successful person, that gap can seem impossibly large. It is so large that it's hard for me to even imagine what it would look like. But it is fun to try.
If I were living up to my full potential:
- I'd already be a multi-millonaire.
- I'd have several businesses operational world wide.
- I'd have a wonderful set of business partners (ok, I already have them!)
- I'd have a great bunch of employees.
- I'd already have at least a son of a daughter.
- I'd be giving several talks a year.
- I'd already own a home.
And here are the real kickers...
- I'd live my life with minimal worry.
- I'd be tenacious in going for what is important to me.
- I'd have a prevailing happiness about me, even when the world rains on my parade.
So what's stopping me?
Fears, worries, doubts, insecurities, etc. But those are all shield words for a single cause—me. The only one that stands my way is me. This is not to play the victim. In fact, its actually owning up to what is usually hidden amidst a sprinkle of excuses.
Full potential is always possible. And like happiness, it's the journey, not the destination. We have in every moment the chance to bring us one step closer. Every the smallest of choices gives us the opportunity to move closer or further away (closing or increasing the gap). Even a so called 'dunce' (by societies definition) can be a billionaire if they have the focus, courage, faith, determination, and wherewithal to see their dreams through. So it's not a question of who has potential. It's a matter of choices, and the size of the gap merely a cumulative measurement of the ones we've made.
And for those who keep shying away from the choices... their skills, hopes, and dreams will always remain 'potentials.'
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.