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“Potential is a priceless treasure, like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out.”– Joyce Meyer
Take a look at the following scenarios. Which one(s) do you have familiarity with?
- The first day in school or at work
- Learning to ride a bicycle or swim
- Doing your first exam
- Becoming a first-time parent
- Entering a new relationship, whether personal or professional.
Each of these is challenging in and of themselves. But they also present the opportunity to extract the rich potential that lies within each one of us. Our best is often discovered when we are challenged most. This is the beauty of potential. In moments when the present challenge surpasses our current capacity, we discover there was a wealth of potential waiting to be realized.
Extracting potential is the next stage after knowing we have it. If what is known is left untapped, like unrefined gold, it remains at a value less than what it was always meant to be. This value of realized potential was so important that a term was coined for it.
Entelechy, which originated from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, refers to the realization of potential. And to realize your full potential will take continuous extraction from two entities: people and problems. I believe they provide the exposure, engagement, environments, and experiences that help us extract our potential and take us places we could never go on our own.
As I watched the finals of the tennis US Open last week, it dawned on me how tennis can be viewed as a solo game. With only two players on opposite sides of the net battling, it can appear that no one else is involved in getting them to play at such a high level. But after each match, both winner and loser takes time to publicly acknowledge the fact that the team around them has gotten them to where they are. That team consists of coaches, family members, and even nutritionists. The people around us matter. Shawn Achor, author of Big Potential insists, “The height of your potential is predicted by the people who surround you.”
Whether it is a friend, teacher, coach, co-worker, spouse, or family member our true potential is extracted through their words and actions. When it comes to writing the first person to extract my potential was my dad.
As a lecturer at a university, he had first-hand experience in writing papers and had even written a book on ethics himself. The time he took to invest in my writing is paying off now. My wife has also been instrumental in extracting my potential. In 2016, she simply asked, “Why don’t you write a book?” It kindled a fire. I created a 300 word a day writing system that culminated in my first book, Discover Your Treasure. I also have my editor, Samson Gichuki who started his own blog recently. His tireless edits and encouragement have pushed me forward. And you, the reader, who reads and shares positive comments that serve to extract my writing potential as well. I couldn’t agree more with this quote by Joel Osteen, “Most people will not reach their full potential without somebody else believing in them.”
No one ever excelled in life by doing it alone. We may see players succeeding in their sport like tennis, but in the background, there is a constellation of people who have extracted that potential. Achor advises us to, “surround ourselves with positive, engaged, motivated, and creative people.” We not only move in the direction of our strongest thoughts but also in the direction of our closest and strongest relationships. It is also important that you be a giver and not only a taker in your relationships. The best relationships thrive on reciprocity. Become an extractor of other people’s potential as well.
But people alone may not be enough. We also need to be consistently removed from comfort zones if we are going to come into our full potential. And this requires the crucible of problems.
A few days ago I saw an advertisement for IBM. It’s first line caught my attention, “It is human nature to hate problems.” How true is that? We have a natural aversion to problems. Maybe it is because problems tend to get us out of our comfort zones or destabilize what we perceive as normal. The next line was a zinger, “Problems are the catalyst for change.” The ad went on to highlight how problems have served to make things and us better.
I believe that problems are a catalyst for change because they extract our potential. I saw this first hand with our daughter. I took her out one day on her tricycle. After riding for sometime she came to a hill. Looking at her and the hill, I surely thought it would be too daunting for her. I asked, “Would you like to go back?” She shook her head and proceeded to charge up the hill on her tricycle. And take the hill she did! My eyes watered as I saw potential in action. Entelechy. At the top of the hill she yelled, ” I did it!” We celebrated like she had won a medal. I was glad that she didn’t give in to her human nature or my suggestion to go back. She rose above both. Later, as I reflected on what I had witnessed our daughter do, I concluded, problems are the stages on which our true potential is revealed.
What problem (s) are you avoiding that could be the catalyst to change and the extractor or your potential?
Final Thought: We can all attest that life will challenge us at different stages. Life is replete with its own hills. The question we always wonder when presented with problems, “Do I have what it takes?” It is in those moments that we must remember that our greatest wealth does not lie on the outside but within us. Your God-given potential awaits extraction and the people and problems around you are present to help you draw it out. We have rich deposits within just like the heart of the earth has rich deposits of gold, oil, and diamonds. But it must be dug for. Will you be brave enough to dig and draw out what has been deposited within you?
Keep on Keeping on!