“Don’t make me drag you to success... get up and walk there yourself” I yelled this to a child who was refusing to work on a language exercise because she wanted to play video games instead.
I stopped after I completed the sentence and thought about it. This is probably how god and the universe feels about me sometimes. Why am I dragging you to your destiny? I think about how I remain satiated by stagnation. It’s because I believe in my potential. Many of us thrive off of the sound of “our potential”. We eat potential up. We meditate on it and orgasm to it. But loving potential is like loving the idea of relationships but not wanting one because you know it’s hard work.
“Don’t make me drag you to success, that’s exhausting and a waste of my time…. Just get up and walk there yourself. Either you can continue riding on the laurels of what you could be or you can just be that and more. I’m not going to continue explaining the benefits of this for you, to you. You have no choice but to do it” This was how I finished the speech. With other unimportant parts left out.
Potential is your worst enemy. Potential enables apathy. Potential is the death of achievement. Sure, thinking about what you’re capable of achieving is a good starting point and a great motivator when you’re stuck. But living every day focused on your potential, is living in a continued state of possibility, not action. In order for any dream to come true we must act. We must take the first steps. We must turn that potential energy into kinetic energy!
Potential is your worst enemy. Potential is a fantasy. Potential is the number one cause of frustration. Everyone on earth has potential. Everyone on earth under the right conditions, can be anything, that’s the beauty of the human experience. The mundanity of our daily lives, push us to dream of a better, bigger, and more grandiose existence. When we lack the tools to make that existence come to fruition, we are filled with disappointment. Why isn’t this my life right now? Why didn’t that opportunity work out? Then we are overcome with thoughts or feelings of inadequacy. Am I really as good as I think I am? We may remember one time when everything came together where we achieved something great. We only remember the good feelings of accomplishment and we forget the entire build up to that moment. Example: you may remember your graduation, but do you remember pulling all nighters eating trash food while downing caffeine?
So how do we turn potential energy into action? How can we capitalize on our potential in order to satisfy our desire to be more? There are three places where each of us can focus our precious time:
I never tell my children to follow their dreams. Instead, I tell them to “work toward their desired outcomes”. What do you want to be? What are the known steps to get you there? What’s your plan? Following dreams alone implies that if we kind of look and walk in a desired direction, our dreams will magically happen. That “magic” is just hard work and intentionality. The toughest thing about hard work and being intentional is that there is no guarantee that we get exactly what we want. We are taking a huge risks with our future. It’s uncertain what’s going to happen. With potential we can hold on to the solid idea of our future in our mind (even though it is a fantasy). But maybe what we want is not what we are supposed to become. Maybe we are supposed to become something greater.
In order to achieve something we must fight our desire to dream about what we could potentially do and use that mental and emotional energy to problem solve and become a version of our vision for ourselves. This doesn’t have to be a huge internal vision like be a mogul or movie star. We can become better parents, better workers, better friends or business owners, good athletes, and more educated. Be intentional. Follow your dreams to the place where your gratitude, talents, and your networks come together. Add in a bit of sweat equity and your potential will take you places you never knew you could to go.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.