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The potential pitfall

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I want to start with a confess; Most of my high school academics consisted of C's. In fact, a few times I did see a D or two float through. I was in a mental state where I couldn't find the motivation to try harder and obtain better grades. It was only in my first semester of community college that I earned enough A's to land on the Dean's List. I will never forget the conversation with my mother after proving to her I had good grades. She said she always felt I was smart enough to do the work, but just never realized my true potential. Funny isn't it? The whole time we struggle through life, the thing that can set our genius free is never employed; Potential.

It blows my mind that the word potential derives from the Latin "potentia" meaning "power". But when we use it in our modern English, we are never talking about power as much as we are referring to possibility. This word "potentia" speaks of a certainty in one's ability to accomplish a task. I don't know about you, but I spent a number of years trapped in the potential pitfall. Getting grades that were a direct opposite of what I was capable of. When we engaged in a lifestyle of potential pitfalls we live far beneath our most greatest powers to perform. We are literally robbing the world of our truest essence.

The thing to remember is just because something 'can' happen doesn't mean it ever will. Humanity has the freedom to soar to heights unknown or founder on the floor of what could be. Potential is only valuable when it is engaged with the full intent to maximize it. After all, what good is it to have muscles if you're never going to exercise them in the gym?

Here are some more realities of our potential pitfall:

(1) Potential boils down to a choice: It is so convenient to blame all of life's maladies on someone else's behavior. We are in control of our lives. Even the things that happen to hurt us, we still control our reaction. A person with no self control or accountability can't realistically expect success. Why? Because success is all about turning potential into performance. And that takes discipline.

(2) Potential's biggest enemy is 'some day': Some day will never be on a calendar. We often live so removed from the present moment we are missing the opportunity to connect. Greatness averts those who dwell in yesterday or lost in the dreams of tomorrow. The world is changed by the man or woman who can capture and tame 'now'. Potential can be deceiving and cause a false sense of security. It can always happen, tomorrow.

(3) Potential reveals what's really in us: We love the ideal of greatness but inwardly despise the work it takes to accomplish it. We want a degree without the hassle of going to class. We want a perfect family but won't do the hard work of cultivating a home. We want the easy way out! Unfortunately there are NO shortcuts to greatness. You pay the price of self sacrifice to cross the toll bridge to your success. Any other way is a fantasy that will never come true.

It took me a few years into my 20's to find my rhythm in life. I always felt out of place when I played myself down in order to fit in with the crowd. It took some pain for me to understand that only a dead fish goes with the flow. What I eventually unlocked was the realization that the only limitations in life exist in our own expectations of ourselves. Potential can and should be used as a bench mark, a launching place into a deeper, more fulfilled life. It's in all of us, the question remains; will we ever tap in?

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