“That was a great swing! You know you really have potential if you get after it Brad,” commented one of my golf coaches. As he teed up another ball for me, joy burst though my veins from his compliment. At the moment, I was excited, but my positive mood only lasted until the fifty-minute lesson was over. I have potential.
“Who doesn’t have potential?” I thought. Potential is a meaningless characteristic, unless you decide to work after what you want to accomplish.
I believe that potential is overrated. Potential is like the, “What if,” statement to me. People with lots of potential are often lazy and could be good at something if they tried. Every student has the potential to receive straights A’s, however, those that are frequently truant, or disrupt class, will see their grades drop. Those that do receive good grades are studying every night and applying themselves daily. These students, the one’s that do well, have no potential because they have taken the initiative to get ahead and accomplish their goals.
Potential is merely an opportunity that has been granted to you, that one day, success will be abundant in what you’re trying to accomplish. Opportunities come and go, but what distinguishes me from the next person is the path I take to succeed.
Those people that go above and beyond in what they do leave potential in the rearview mirror. The more potential someone has, the harder one must work to achieve their goals. When my golf coach told me that I had potential, I realized that I needed to get to work. Webster’s defines potential as the possible, instead of the actual. Before getting that lesson, I was hooking, slicing, and shanking balls in every way but onto the fairway. When I received that empty compliment, it was the middle of the summer and I needed a quick fix before golf tryouts. I hadn’t worked on my game enough, and I expected it to improve at the flick of a switch. I realized later that day that it is solely my responsibility to achieve what I want in life. There is no magic wand that gets us to our goals, like I was hoping with my golf game. I believe that, we mold our life based on our actions. If you are a person that does not take action, then you have enormous potential. In other words, you are bum.
It was because of that golf lesson, and my coach’s remark, that I believe potential is overrated. If you rely on potential for too long then it will run out like good luck. Hard work pays off, and the luck those determined people encounter is merely the residue of design.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.