“There are admirable potentialities in every human being” (André Gide).
POTENTIAL HAS TO DO WITH POSSIBILITIES. It means we are capable of growing, developing, and learning to use powers that are, at present, only latent within us. And the fact is, every human being has some potential. That’s true because no human being is presently using all of the powers that he or she is capable of using. We all have room to grow, and we need to be encouraged by the fact that our potential for growth is greater than we’ve ever imagined.
There is a sense, of course, in which it’s better to have as little potential as possible. If we define potential as unused ability, then it would be a compliment if someone said we had very little of that!
But most of us do have at least a few powers that we’ve not yet learned how to use, and so one of the most important items of business in life is reaching forward to the realization of our potential. In fact, the quality of our lives depends more on this than it does on the enjoyment of things we’ve already accomplished. There is always some impulse within us that’s wanting to make progress. Apathy, indifference, complacency, and the like are deadly enemies of ours, and we’re not happy, really, unless we’re striving toward our full potential.
And yet, there’s a consideration even more important than our own growth, and that would be the growth of those whom we love. We never use ourselves more worthily than when we do things that assist our loved ones in reaching their potential. Indeed, we do them a great favor when we even help them to see their potential more clearly. And there aren’t many joys in life greater than watching someone reach a potential we’ve helped them to see and develop.
The fulfillment of potential, whether it’s our own or somebody else’s, almost always requires sacrifice. The weightlifter’s motto, “No pain, no gain,” is pertinent to far more than physical training. There is nothing worth having in life that doesn’t have a price tag, and the cost of realizing our potential often consists of letting go of the comforts of our present condition. We can’t have tomorrow and today too — either we pay the price and grow, or we stay stuck right where we are.
“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become” (Charles DuBois).