“Men are often capable of greater things than they perform. They are sent into the world with bills of credit, and seldom draw to their full extent” (Horace Walpole).
DOES OUR ABILITY COME ANYWHERE CLOSE TO OUR CAPABILITY? There may be many reasons why we fall short, but it’s a fact that we use no more than a small percentage of our resources. At the end of our lives, a good bit of our potential has gone untapped.
While we still have the opportunity, we need to be better stewards of our blessings. Elevating our goals (and also increasing our courage), we must do more of the good work we’re capable of doing. Life is too short to waste it on “shoulda, coulda, wouldas.” And I would suggest that it is for our families, most of all, that we should strive to reach our potential. As gifts go, this is a truly great one.
But we also need to affirm and encourage the capabilities of our fellow human beings. “Every human soul is of infinite value, eternal, free; no human being, therefore, is so placed as not to have within his reach, in himself and others, objects adequate to infinite endeavor” (Arthur J. Balfour). The literal meaning of “encourage” is to “impart courage to another person,” and in the matter of capability that is exactly what we must do: we must help others to see how great their possibilities are, and then help them to have the courage to do what they’re capable of doing. When we do this, we are often astonished to see how much more they were capable of than we thought.
Capability has a dangerous side, of course. Our potential for good is matched by our potential for evil, and there is no deed so wicked that any of us would not be capable of doing it under the right circumstances. Any of us is capable of anything. (“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”) So we need to be on our guard — always.
But if we must guard against our evil capabilities, we must learn to appreciate our good ones. We’ve been endowed with great gifts, and these were meant to be used. We never want to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, certainly, but neither should we think more lowly of ourselves than is right. The gifts and opportunities granted us by our Creator are not to be underestimated or ignored. They are to be received — and used — with all of our hearts.
“I want to be all that I am capable of becoming” (Katherine Mansfield).