Word Count: 1075
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” – Paulo Coelho
Hope Lies Ahead
Your best is still ahead of you, not behind you. No matter what stage or age, this is true because of the limitless potential that lies in each of us. I have learned this lesson from Dr. John Maxwell, who even at the age of 72 still remains among the top leadership experts in the world and shows no signs of slowing down. He has committed himself to a lifetime of growth and it shows in his level of productivity at an age where most are retired. He is still unleashing his potential. Our potential is evidence that our future is greater than our past.
Former 2016 Presidential Candidate and Founder of Unlocking Potential, Carly Fiorina says, “Realizing your fullest potential will feel as if something inside you is being unlocked.” Maybe the present we feel trapped in can lead to a brighter future by unlocking our potential within. Needless to say, the implications of our potential on the future are nothing short of astronomical.
The Question We Must Answer
How can we see a future we have not experienced through potential? On one hand, failure to answer this question correctly will drive us off the cliff of desperate behavior and plunge us into the abyss of busyness, unproductive days, and eventually unfulfilled lives.
On the other hand, successfully answering it will put a desire in us to do all we can to bring about a better and brighter future. To live an impactful life for us and for the coming generation.
How did Nelson Mandela keep hope alive of a better South Africa while languishing in prison on Robben Island with life imprisonment? Is it possible that while imprisoned, he was still free to dream, hope, and envision a better South Africa than the one he was born into? I believe vision beyond his present was key for him during those 27 years. But when Mandela came out of prison he also knew that diligence would be necessary to see the vision come to actualization. He alluded to the hard work that was ahead. Potential requires vision and diligence if it is to be pursued to fruition.
Simply put, vision is the ability to see. More deeply, vision is more of a mental skill than a retinal ability. Helen Keller, the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
A vision should be clear and compelling for it to give you permission to see a better future. Being clear means it can be explained or written with simplicity. Philanthropist Tom Steyer observed, “Clarity of vision is the key to achieving your objectives.” The compelling aspect of vision carries the idea of sparking interest or attention. Your level of enthusiasm or lack thereof concerning your vision will be contagious to anyone you express it to. Vision is attractive. The strength of your vision will attract the resources needed to bring it to pass. In a nutshell, vision draws provision.
Your vision should be at your fingertips and readily roll off your tongue if inquiry is made. It should be something you pray over and refer to it as often as you can. Vision comes when you realize you don’t have to settle for less than what you were made for. This is what makes it so vital. Our potential affirms, “You were made for more.” Vision helps to see the course that potential walks on. A vision is not only attractive. It affects your outlook on life. Pastor Charles R. Swindoll confirms, “When you have a vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.” Most skeptics, pessimists, and cynics possess a similar trait: lack or loss of vision.
Mandela saw a South Africa that was collaborative. There was no white or black domination. He saw a people-centered society whose racial lines had been erased for a brighter future. But vision is only the start. Once a vision is set, diligence must take the stage next.
While vision is the ability to see, diligence is the determination to do. It gives vision life and legs. Vision coupled with diligence unleashes potential. Without diligence, vision as well as potential remain hidden in the abyss of what could have been.
One thing that I share with Nelson Mandela is the love he had for running. He expressed that, “running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” I have endeavored to do the same and have seen results.
There are three ingredients from my personal experience that have been necessary for diligence to be applied in the area of vision and potential:
- Concentration: This is a laser-like focus to put effort in the direction of your vision. To turn this on, turn distractions off. They will lead to di-vision. No one accomplishes much when distracted.
- Resilience: This is the resolve that hardships and setbacks only serve to strengthen not to weaken. Think of a bamboo tree that bends but doesn’t break during harsh winds or storms. Patience/endurance has also played a big role in developing resilience in my life.
- Confidence: This is the assurance that it will happen. For me, this assurance comes through faith and trust in God, not self-confidence. I have come to terms that I cannot do anything worthwhile unless God has purposed it for me.
During his time as a lawyer, Abraham Lincoln was adamant that “the leading rule for the lawyer, as for the person of every calling, is diligence.” The reward for applied diligence is a life of unequivocal excellence. There, our true potential is unveiled for all to see.
Final thought: With vision and diligence we can unleash our potential and pursue a brighter future. May your next opportunity combine beautifully with the full measure of your potential and bring about a better future. Let us no longer view each other by the metrics of height and weight but by the depth of our potential. The future persistently asks, “Will you realize your full potential?”
Keep on keeping on!