As I mentioned last week, I’m going to be exploring the concept of potential this year in my blog. I’ll talk about what it is, how to understand it, how to unlock it and how to maximize it. I write to learn, I also write to teach, I write to ultimately apply it to my life. This is as much for me, as it is for you.

We all have goals and dreams, things that we strive for. And the very act of having a goal or a dream means that there is something to attain, something that you don’t have yet. It also means that you have decided that you have the potential to attain said thing. The gap between you and your goal is the gap between you and your potential. 

What is potential?

Potential is…dormant ability…reserved power…untapped strength…unused success…hidden talents…capped capability.

Potential is what you are capable of doing, it is who you are capable of being. It is the potential of the seed of your soul. We are born human, with the massive capacity to learn and adapt, to create, to form, to think, to decide, to act. We are made in the image of God, of ultimate source, of the energy that drives and sustains the universe. We are each made a unique bundle of desires, aspirations, talents, inclinations, circumstances, talents, abilities, and gifts. We are too incredible to be purposeless. 

Everything that exists has a potential and purpose inherent in its function. An orange seed is just a seed. But its function is to produce a tree. When the seed is planted, it germinates, it unlocks its potential, and over time, with nurturing and rain and good soil and sunshine, it grows and becomes the tree it could have always been. Potential is the capacity for reproduction, the ability to grow. Potential is pre-ordained destiny. Potential is possibility.

Embracing potential reveals hope, optimism, a clear admission that more is possible.

But to know what you are capable of, you have to understand your purpose. I mentioned earlier that humans have massive capacity to learn and adapt. You have the potential for almost anything, in the strictest sense of the world. We could do anything. We could exercise the potential to be more and more of anything. You could be the biggest baddest partier that there ever was. You could work hard to be the best most nurturing husband or wife this side of the equator. You could also learn and develop yourself to be the most incredible con artist who ever lived. You just have to decide which potential you are willing to pursue and explore.

But everything and everyone has a true potential. I could keep my iPhone off and use it as a paperweight to prevent the many papers on my desk from blowing away in the wind. That would be a violation of its true potential. With more computing power than the computers that sent the man to the moon, it was made for much more than just being a paperweight. To truly unlock your potential, you have to understand your nature and your purpose.

The potential of a product is determined by its purpose. This is true of everything…including you.

And the best place to find that out is at your source.

When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.

On Christmas day, my family went out for lunch as is our tradition, and we sat down in this restaurant to eat, and my brother and I kept joking to ourselves about the music that was playing. It was a lot of 90’s and early 00s RnB, at least 40-50% of it were R Kelly songs. This was just before the documentary that came out, and We reflected over the controversy surrounding the man and how difficult it has been to ‘cancel’ him because of the quality of his music, especially the uplifting stuff. This man made many iconic songs, songs that have lifted our spirits, entertained us and marked many moments of our lives. 

But his potential is cut short. This extremely gifted individual refused to heal from his trauma and pain and proceeded to inflict heinous pain and abuse on many women and many people around him. The man who once sang ‘You saved me’ is now covered with utter filth. The same talent he used to bring joy to many people, he has also used to damn many. His legacy is compromised.

That is the nature of potential. It is truly able to go both ways, positive and negative. And usually it goes bad when its true purpose isn’t honored, because that energy must go somewhere, or die. 

When potential is kept unfulfilled, it self-destructs.

But for the vast majority of people, we don’t go that far, we just simply don’t live up to our potential. We expect too little from ourselves, or rather we demand too little of ourselves. We do just enough. We give in to our excuses, we let fear stop us. We want to write books, but we never do, for one reason or the other. We want to start companies, but we never do because of the fear of losing our present comfort. We miss out on what is uniquely ordained for us because we are too busy looking over into our neighbour’s yard, trying to keep up with the Joneses. 

Even worse, we gain some level of success and we become self-satisfied. We become impressed with ourselves and we rest on our oars. We feel like we have arrived. But as long as we still have breath in us, there is still yet much more to be done.

Potential is never what you have done. It is what you haven’t done yet. Once you have done something, it ceases to be potential. 

It is okay to stop and smell the flowers. It is totally fine to congratulate yourself and take some pride in what you have accomplished. It is not acceptable to park there. You have to keep moving. Your job is to convert all your potential (possibility) into concrete reality. Exhaust the mine of your potential. Arrive at your grave empty.

You are only as good as your last at bat – Gary Vee

Don’t be that guy in your middle age still bragging about the things you did in high school, or the parties and the fun times you had in your youth. Nobody cares. What have you done lately? What have you done now? Unless you have a massive legacy like a Mandela ‘fathering’ a nation, you have no business resting. It is a new year, stretch yourself. Exhaust your potential. Stay vital to the end. 

All unattributed quotes above are by the late Dr. Myles Munroe.

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