There is one phrase that every single person has heard. No matter where you’re from, how old you are, your race, culture, creed or religion, you have heard this phrase:
“I could have done much better at school. I just never lived up to my potential.”
Admit it. You’ve heard it. In fact, I would be willing to wager that you’ve probably even said it – several times. Your teacher probably wrote words to that effect on your end of year report card. Every year. We just never live up to our potential.
And I’m glad we don’t! Potential is something that should be left well alone. Don’t touch it. It’s dangerous. It’s just a bad idea. Why? I’ll get to that shortly.
First, let me quote from comedian Dylan Moran (whose ‘rant’ on his DVD “Monster” inspired me to write this):
“You should stay away from your potential. I mean, that is something you should leave absolutely alone. You’ll mess it up. It’s potential; leave it. And, anyway, it’s like your bank balance: you always have a lot less than you think.”
Herein lies the key. We’ll just mess our potential up. We always think we have more potential than we actually do. We think we could have done better at school (“If only I worked that little harder…”), we think we could have acheived more on the sports field (“If only I’d trained more…”), we think we could have controlled our weight better (“If only I had more self control and didn’t eat that extra 14 pieces of chocolate, five milkshakes and three chicken breasts…”). You acheived what you deserved to acheive. You acheived what you were capable of acheiving.
Leave you’re potential alone. Don’t go there. You’ll mess it up. It’s like the mythical Pandora’s Box – once you’ve opened your potential, bad stuff’s going to happen. Leave. It. Alone.
This is what I’m getting at: just do what you do to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about what you could potentially do. Just do what you do to the best of your ability.
That’s all I’m saying.