Potential Wasted


I would like to raise my hand and say the following: I have wasted my potential. For years, I took for granted my potential which should have been used to improve my life and making a difference for others.

Many times I spoke about going back to school and somehow, I would find a reason not to go back. Now who suffers for lack of action? Me!! My failures are on me, no one else. Opportunities such as learning new skills or playing sports or keeping friends close were lost because of fear, fear of the unknown. Now that I have raised my hand, I need to understand why I wasted my potential.

Potential is: having a latent possibility or likelihood of occurring, or of doing or becoming something. We waste our potential because we do not want to fail. Fear of failure will inhibit us to hold back and not take a chance. We fear failing so much that we won’t try anything unless it is a home run. Wait! A home run? Let me explain the home run analogy. A baseball player who isn’t confident in their running ability would opt to swing for the fences. (think David Ortiz) The home run is a guaranteed score. There is no need to steal second, no need to slide head first into third you just need to trot to home plate. For the record, home runs are great. They represent power and a conclusion at bat. Not everyone is going to hit it long so you have be able to hit the ball to other parts of the field and make it count. Potential is wasted because we’ll stand around waiting and waiting for the right moment to act meanwhile opportunities will pass by as we are still waiting. We have to hit (potential) the ball (opportunities) as hard as we can and if it goes out of the park then fine no work is needed but if not then we have some work to do.

We use “what ifs” to look at what could have been. Let’s look at how the lives of some famous people might have turned out if they not used their potential to become who they are.

What if Barack Obama had not run for the Senate after losing the Democratic primary for the House in 2000, how would he had turned out? Obama could have still involved in local politics but he may not had written his books which in a way gave America the heads up on him and his role to inspire people would have been lost. Blacks would still view the presidency as “not attainable.”

What if Michael Jordan after being cut by his high school basketball coach vowed never to play ball again would he had the same experiences as his alter ego, Air Jordan experienced being the best basketball player in the world? Probably not. Jordan stated that his experience of being cut motivated him to become Air Jordan. Without it, he might have been your friendly garbage man.

What if Bill Gates and Paul Allen had given up on building Windows because IBM had said no to their idea of using DOS on their computers, would we be using personal computers? Maybe Apple computers which wouldn’t be a bad thing but what would Apple been without Microsoft?

Had these men not strive to live up to their potential, millions would have lost out because the accomplishments would have never been told and the potential to elevate others to follow in their giant footsteps would not be possible. Obama running for president inspired millions of minorities to not use race as the reason they can’t do, Michael Jordan becoming Air Jordan motivated lil’ Kobe and lil’ LeBron to be his heir and millions of fans wanted to “be like Mike,” and Bill Gates and Paul Allen were part of a revolution that changed the world without firing a shot. Men and women must tap into their potential so that we can "be like Mike" which I would not have a problem with. Instead of telling me why it can’t be done, tell me how it will be done and you got me.

I know people have always said “be patient,” “be patient” but we have those moments when the potential is just too great to be patient. Sometimes we have to take a “leap of faith and ride or die with the results. People like me are tired of being patient because waiting for things to be just right is the reason I have lost so much. We have to step into the unknown and fear nothing because life is short. To deny yourself what your dreams have told you over and over will beat you down emotionally each day because you know in your heart you are losing out. In the folktale of John Henry, John Henry was a strong man who swung a hammer like no other man. One day, a salesman came with a drill that could out-drill any man. John Henry, being the man that he was knew that no machine was going to outdo him so he went head up with the drill. He beat that drill but he died as a result. Surely, John Henry didn’t go into that contest with dying on his mind but he went into that contest knowing his potential. That he could outwork any machine. We need to stop wasting our potential and do what we are capable of because in the end everyone benefits.


~ by R8RBOB on January 25, 2010.

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