The Importance of Realizing Potential

Joseph - Orange Park, Florida
Entered on March 24, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The intricacies found in even the smallest aspects of the simplest mind are usually far greater than the amount of realization afforded their potential. I find that unfortunate, because I believe in potential. There is no shortage of supply, either. There is only a shortage of those who wish to live up to, and beyond, their capabilities and capacities. For all this planet’s become, for all that its inhabitants have accomplished, and for all the advancements birthed from a wonderful combination of itself and applied science, there is still so much to be done if only more hearts and minds were not left idle.

At the age of ten I began writing, or attempting to write, short stories. Today I write anything I can, whenever I find the time. At ten I wrote with a combination of love for the trade and boredom. Today my combination of choice is love for the trade and stress relief. I write creatively, and I write precisely. Selfishly, though, I do not submit anything for publication. Selfishly, and lazily, I finish a story and set it aside.

By thirteen I was deeply devoted to understanding astronomy and what I later learned is called cosmology, the study of the universe. It’s a look at the big picture. For me, it’s always about the big picture. Yet, I have never taken a class or attended a lecture. I fear that in this, as well as in writing, I have not lived up to my potential.

This is not a confession of guilt to serve as a release from its burden, this is simply a statement about my belief in potential and that which those who use it can accomplish. From the grandest scale to the smallest fraction of a percent, the one whose potential drives him will necessarily affect the other, whose does not. Had Martin Luther King not pushed the limits of his potential as a great speaker, Barack Obama would likely not have been elected to President. Had Thomas Jefferson not grasped his potential as an intellectual and a writer, I would likely not be writing this essay. All things done with tenacity and confidence, the two cornerstones of realizing one’s potential, must have lasting effects on society and individual alike. There is no alternative outcome. There is no better result. This I believe.