The Potential of Potential

Our Potential by Hugh MacLeod
Our Potential by Hugh MacLeod

I wanted to get out a quick thought this AM that was inspired by the cartoon above from the always excellent Hugh McLeod at (I own one of his prints and it hangs proudly in my home office as a little reminder to myself to fight the status quo).  If you haven’t checked out his site, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Potential is a funny thing… we all want it for ourselves, as we should.  We want to know that there is a limitless amount of possibility for ourselves and where we choose to take our lives.  However, potential has an interesting flip side to it when it comes to our own personal potential… the longer we have it without it being fulfilled, the worse it really is.  Then it becomes a reminder of what we could do, but haven’t.  Ugh.

It’s as if potential was an empty vessel of some kind and the larger it is, the more chance we have to fill it… but if it stays empty or barely filled, it just get dusty and disappointing.  It’s there to be filled.  It’s meant to be filled… or at the very least, the attempt to fulfill on its promise must always be engaged.

Before anyone thinks I am taking a good thing and looking only at its ugly side, I’m actually not being a pessimist here.  Instead, I seek to jab all of us in the side with a reminder that potential is a great thing, but a massive amount of unfulfilled potential due to lack of interest, desire or just plain hard work will always pale in comparison to someone who may have less, but dagnabbit, gets after it with fervor. And each of us never truly knows how big that vessel of potential is, do we?  Isn’t it better to put your head down, kick ass and see where the limits may be?  I’ve long had the suspicion that it’s not finite, but grows as we do…

There is also another very positive side to the concept of potential and this is less about your own personal abilities and gifts and more about what life can offer you.  In that sense, I know there is no upper limit to what can be.  The opportunities to try things, do things, see things and experience things is pretty much limitless.

So therein lies the battle cry for each of us (and definitely for me… remember people, I write this just as much to kick my own behind into action as yours): If we can each keep pushing the bounds of our own personal potential and life will always offer us limitless potential, then bringing those two things together is about as perfect a marriage as you can get.

In the words of two of the greatest poets of our time… Salt-n-Pepa, obviously… push it.  Push it real good.

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