All people are sent to the world with limitless credit, but few draw to their full extent.

It is a tragedy to know that with over five billion people on this planet today, only a minute percentage will experience a significant fraction of their true potential. Perhaps you are a candidate for contributing to the wealth of the cemetery, your potential was not given for you to deposit in the grave. You must understand the tremendous potential you possess and commit yourself to maximising it in your short lifetime. What is potential, anyway?

Potential Defined
Potential is:

  • Dormant ability
  • Reserved power
  • Untapped strength
  • Unused success
  • Hidden talent
  • Capped capability
  • All you can be but have not yet become
  • All you do but have not yet done
  • How far you can reach but have not yet reached
  • What you can accomplish but have not yet accomplished

“Potential is unexposed ability and latent power.”

Potential is therefore not what you have done, but what you are able to do. In other words, what you have done is no longer your potential, what you have successfully accomplished is no longer potential. It is said that unless you do something beyond what you have done, you will never grow or experience your full potential.

Potential demands that you never settle for what you have accomplished. One of the great enemies of your potential is success. In order to realise your full potential, you must never be satisfied with your last accomplishment. It is also important that you never let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life that never realised its full potential. You must decide today not to rob the world of the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you. Potential has never got a retirement plan.

The Potential Principle
To simplify this concept, let’s look at one of the most powerful elements in nature – the seed. If I held a seed in my hand and asked you, “What do I have in my hand?” what would you say? Perhaps you would answer what seems to be obvious – a seed. However, if you understand the nature of a seed, your answer would be fact but not truth.

The truth is that I hold a forest in my hand. Why? Because in every seed there is a tree, and in every tree there is fruit or flowers with seeds in them. And those seeds also have trees that have fruit that have seeds and so forth, in essence, what you see is not all that there is. That is potential. Not what is, but what could be.

Don’t Settle for What You Have
Nothing in life is instant. People think success is instant, but it really is not. Achieving success is a process. You are full of potential. Potential is always present, waiting to be exposed. It demands that you never settle for what you have accomplished. Oddly, one of the greatest enemies of your potential is success. Never accept success as a lifestyle – it is but a phase. Never accept an accomplishment as the end – it is but a mark in the process. There are many selves within you that lie dormant, untapped and unused. Your primary problem is that you do not think about yourself as having even greater potential.

You can maximize the potential within you. You are not yet what you are supposed to be – though you may be pleased with what you now are. Don’t accept your present state in life as final, because it is just that, a state. Don’t be satisfied with your last accomplishment, because there are many accomplishments yet to be perfected. Since you are full of potential, you should not be the same person next year that you are this year. 

There are many selves within you that lie dormant, untapped and unused.
You should always be looking for what is not yet visible. There is more inside you than is evident on the outside. On the other hand, humankind is often satisfied with nothing better, thus we settle for what we have. Do you? Therein lies the tragedy of life. The minute that we begin to settle down and be satisfied with what we have, we lose the possibility of revealing what is really inside us. Too often we die without exploring the gifts, abilities, and successes that lay hidden within us. Our thoughts, ideas, and possibilities are not used. We fail to realise the vast potential that is stored within us. We are like batteries in a radio that is never played – our potential is wasted.

Suppose…
Imagine that Shakespeare had died before he wrote his poems and plays – the potential of Macbeth would have been buried. Suppose Michelangelo had died before he painted the Sistine Chapel or Da Vinci the Mona Lisa – the beauty of their paintings would have been lost. Suppose Mozart had died with all that music inside. Or suppose a world without women like Joan of Arc, Emily Dickinson, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Queen Isabella, or Mother Teresa.

Can you imagine how many great works of art, music, and literature are buried in the graveyard near your house? Can you imagine how many solutions to the problems that we face today are buried with someone you knew? People die without getting out their full potential. They fail to use all that was stored in them for the benefit of the world.

Don’t Die With My Things!
I wonder what would have happened if your father had died before you were conceived or your mother.

What would the world have lost if you had not been born? What will the world lack because you fail to live out your potential? Will you carry songs, books, inventions, cures, or discoveries to your grave?

What would the world have lost if you had not been born?
Our teens are committing suicide. I wonder who they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to do that we will never know. Have we lost some great leaders? Was your grandchild’s professor or another Martin Luther King Jr. amongst them?

Everything in life has the potential to fulfil its purpose. People who died without achieving their full potential, rob their generation of their latent ability. Many have robbed me – they’ve also robbed you. To die with ability is irresponsible.

Perhaps you are wasting your life doing nothing with all that you have. There are skills, talents, and unique aspects of personality packaged in you for the good of the world – use them. We will never know the wealth planted in you until you bring it up. There’s always something in you that we haven’t yet seen. Release your ability before you die. Use the power and strength within you for the good of yourself and others. I believe there are books, songs, art works, businesses, poems, inventions, cures, and investments in you that are intended for my children and future grandchildren to benefit from and enjoy.

New From Old
Consider this: Innovation does not create new raw materials. All of the raw materials are already created. Innovation recombines them in fresh ways. Everything that we call “new” is a new grouping of old things. The exact combination and the timing of the combination may be new, but the raw materials are not new.

Everything necessary to invest in the next new things is already present in the world. Innovation enables someone to see old things with new eyes and to combine them in new ways for new purposes.

When you go to the store and buy a new pair of shoes it is an old cowhide that has been cut, stretched, stitched and soled. When you buy a book, the cover and the pages have been made from plant materials. When you buy a new suit, it is old sheep wool, “reformatted.” When you buy a beautiful new wooden dining room table, it is not as new as you might think because it is really an old tree, worked over and changed into a table. When you buy a “new” car, it is a combination of old metals, petroleum products, and so forth. Things and people can be re-purposed. But do you know what your purpose really is?

Who Are You?
Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? What was I born to do? What can I do? Where do I fit? Why am I different? What is my potential? Where am I going? Why did I come to this planet? – These are universal questions that haunt every human being. Each of us must find the answers to these questions of purpose if we are going to enjoy a meaningful, effective, and fulfilling life.

Purpose and fulfilling our potential are keys to life. Without purpose, life has no meaning. There are millions today busy making a living, but they are experience very little of life. If your goal in life is to be wealthy so that you can retire, you have embarked on a depressing journey to nowhere. If your vision for life is measured by status, your upkeep will be your downfall. Vision is buried in purpose. Without knowledge of purpose, life becomes an endless string of activities with little or no significance. Like a rider on a rocking horse, life without purpose makes much motion but no progress.

A World without Purpose
A lack of purpose and the impending tragedy that results from absence is found not only in people, but in all things. When elements of nature lose their purpose, chaos and destruction are the results. When nations, societies, communities, organisations, friendships, marriages, clubs, churches, countries, or tribes lose their sense of purpose and significance, then confusion, frustration, discouragement, disillusionment, and corporate suicide – whether gradual or instant – reign. Purpose is the master of motivation and the mother of commitment. It is the source of enthusiasm and the womb of perseverance.

Purpose gives birth to hope and instils the passion to act. It is the common denominator that gives every creature an element of distinction. This guiding sense of purpose is more than an orientation towards a goal. Rather, it is a deep awareness that a common vision encompasses all life and existence. Without this vision, we can only exist. We feel no passion for living – nor do we have a reason to wake up in the morning. 

Purpose gives birth to hope and instils the passion to act on fulfilling your potential
Thousands of years ago, a king, known as the wisest man who ever lived stated: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” This was his conclusion after years of observing life, activities, plans, and achievements apart from a sense of personal and corporate purpose. These words and their sad echo have returned to haunt us nearly six thousand years later. We face a world that acts like a spaceship that has lost its flight plan.

Planet Earth is like a mother whose children have lost all sense of direction and all value in life. Globally speaking, everything is in motion. Mergers and acquisitions, deregulations and changing agencies of control, information technologies, and international competition all alter the shape and thrust of our economies and the way we do business. Changing demographics, realigned industry structures, new strategic alliances, innovative technologies, unaccustomed modes of working, and the volatility of stock markets demand a fresh approach to commerce. Increasing competition, the shrinking of world into a large global village, the move towards freer markets in former communist countries, and the reality of the European Common Market, all alter the way that we deal with the world and it deal with us. Many industrialised nations are being transformed into Third World states as numerous people migrate from undeveloped nations.

Long-established ideologies are evaporating in the fires of revolutionary changes. Institutions that were long held sacred, are crumbling under the weight of social pressure. In almost every nation, the situation is the same. There is political confusion, ideological frustration, social unrest, economic uncertainty, moral bankruptcy, institutionalised corruption, and disillusionment with religion. All these inhabit an environment of fragile diplomacy.

The world has become an incubator of stress, depression, hopelessness, and fear. It seems that the kingdoms and the governments of this world are bankrupt. They no longer offer innovative solutions for these ever-increasing problems. Industrialised nations are as fragile as Third World nations. The tremendous changes in national and international situations, and the economic, political, social, and cultural transitions that have accompanied these changes, now present totally different global equations.

There is also a generation in every nation that seems to have lost its sense of purpose. They are out of touch with the values, morals, and convictions that build strong families, secure communities, healthy societies, and prosperous nations. Thus, the moral fabric of most societies is being stretched and tested to its outer limits. In every nation, the concern is the same. Many of the time-weathered institutions of the industrial states are being tried by challenges that threaten to transform tradition and demand creative and innovative responses.

Hope through Potential’s Purpose
There is the great hope though, for the world as we recognise the potential and purpose in all people and things to be fulfilled by combining and putting some of the already-created things together in a new way. Don’t limit your potential by thinking that there is nothing new under the sun. Don’t give up until you have lived out the full extent of your potential, because you have no right to die with my things. Don’t rob the next generations of the wealth, treasures, and tremendous gifts buries deep within you.

  • If you want to succeed, strike out on new paths. Don’t travel the worn paths of accepted success.
  • No one can climb beyond the limitations of his or her own belief. Every day sends to the grave obscure men and women whose fear prevented from realising their true and full potential.
  • Failure is not the absence of success. Failure is the neglect of trying.
  • What you see is not all there is. There is potential in everything.

What you have done is no longer your potential. Potential is what you can do but have not yet done
Consider, for a moment, a rose. In the spring before the rose bush blooms, it is ugly. Thorns cover the stems and tiny, hard, green things stick out among the leaves. After a few weeks, these little green things slowly begin to open until you can see the colour of the petals. Then the bud begins to open and their individual petals become visible. Still, the rose is not yet what it can be. It has not reached the height of its beauty. There comes a point when the fully opened rose reaches perfection.

Its shape and colour are in perfect harmony. After perfection is reached, death and decay set in. The flowers whither and brown until the petals fall from the bush. It fulfils its purpose and naturally dies. Nothing – and no one – should die until their purpose is fulfilled.

Principles

  1. You were created with potential.
  2. Nothing in life is instant.
  3. Everything in life has the potential to fulfil its purpose.
  4. Don’t be satisfied with what you now are.
  5. Don’t die without using your full potential.
  6. The greatest threat to progress is your last successful accomplishment.
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