Potential!

Tonyo Melendez writes:

I have no idea what it is. Do you? Everybody uses the word as if they know what it is. Everybody senses that the word has positive connotations. “He’s got potential!” and “She’s got a lot of potential!” people say. But the truth is that potential is nothing. It’s like talent. “He’s so talented!” “She’s got lots of talent!” As if just having it makes it a fait accompli -which it does not. At least talent shows in some raw form, early in people’s lives. If you have a talent for singing, for example, you usually start displaying it as a kid. But potential is a vague thing. Everybody knows what it is, and no one knows exactly what it is.

This is so because potential is nothing, unless you do something about it. If you have the potential to be a great teacher, you have to work at it to become one. It’s not magic. You don’t snap your fingers and voilá! There it is. It is hard work. You have to develop potential. You have to learn how to turn potential into a skill, or art, or craft. Learning how to maximize your potential takes time, dedication, and tenacity.

Paul Newman, the great American actor, used to say he got angry at the many actors he had worked with who had tremendous potential because most of them did not realize that potential. They did not live up to their vaunted potential. Give me an actor with less potential and more dedication, he would say.

If you are blessed with potential, it is your duty to fulfill it. It is a crime to waste one’s potential. It was given to you to be used. You must develop that potential and use it for your own betterment and hopefully, the betterment of society as well. Learning this lesson may take a lifetime. Hopefully, it will not.

At Learning is M.A.G.I.C., we like to think of potential as a group of things; a child may be intelligent, talented, funny, and generous. That is a lot of potential. Now, that child has to be encouraged to fulfill that potential; she has to use her intelligence by studying, develop her talents by spending the time it requires to make that talent flourish, she has to learn to use her sense of humor to foster strong relationships with family, friends, and teachers, and she must practice generosity by helping others without expecting a reward in return. This child is fulfilling her potential and becoming an outstanding member of society.

All of us have potential. Few of us live up to it.
I say, let’s all be all we can be!

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