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College student hoping to expose people to thoughts and ideas they might not necessarily come across on a regular basis.

Potential is worthless...

I had a basketball coach in high school, a real hard ass when it came to the game, but not so bad off the court. He lived by the motto, "Potential is absolutely worthless, because you don't use it." I didn't agree with him at the time, and to some extent, I still don't. Potential isn't worthless, because while potential is not a skill that can be actively used by a person, it can be honed, shaped, refined into a skill or ability that is, without a doubt, powerful for the person who possesses it.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there lived a man by the name of Sydney Smith. Sydney Smith was an English Anglican Clergyman and he published multiple religious writings during his career. In an entirely non-religious statement, Sydney Smith wrote,

"A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort."

Maybe somewhere out there a woman with the voice of an angel, vocal harmony so sweet and heavenly that some would find their lives altered in a strangely intangible way just at the sound of it. This woman, with the power to change lives, to influence the world for the better with the absolute power of her voice, is scared to sing. When she thinks of singing, she fails to see the positive. It's not those potential fans, devoted to her singing, or those listeners, taking comfort in her music, that she sees when she thinks of singing. It's the stage. The lights. The people staring at her every move and judging her for it. She sees a future that has yet to happen, a future relatively far from now in time, and because of what might be, because of the possibility of a chance of a could-be, she stays silent.

"So what?" you ask. What do you care what a person does with their life? Why should it matter to you if someone doesn't do anything with a talent they have? My question to you is, "Why don't you care?" You see, it's not simply the talent or skill that one can fail to realize because of fear, but it is also life's experiences, knowledge of how the world works, but most importantly, human experience.

A man may live his entire life locked in his home during the day, only venturing out at night, for fear of the sun's powerful rays. Perhaps the idea of a flaming ball of gas so hot that it's warmth can be felt 93 million miles away frightens this man.

Unfortunately for this man, he will never be able to experience the wonderful way in which the sun interacts, supports, and enhances the world. He will never fully comprehend the way in which the rays of the sun caress the delicate petals of a flower and provide a necessary catalyst to numerous processes that keep the life on Earth from fading away. He will never know soothing, relaxing feeling of stepping into the warm sun after being inside a frigid building. He will never realize how deeply he could come to appreciate that ball of gas and the wonders of its existence because he never faced his fear.

Maybe you're asking yourself, "So one guy hates the sun, and I am supposed to do something about it?" Yes. You are. That is the story of one man, and one fear, but think of the vast number of people that exist in this world, how many of them have fears that hold them back, and just how limited our collective human experience has become. Imagine for a moment if every person did one thing, just one, that scared them or made them uncomfortable. Maybe nothing would happen. I'll gladly admit that. But then again, maybe those who always thought the guy with dark skin, or the girl who wanted to marry another girl, were disgusting or twisted, maybe they realize these folks aren't so bad. Maybe the guy who sees the woman he's got a thing for goes and says hi. Maybe a kid says no to his friend's attempts to get him to do drugs. Maybe a young person in a bad neighborhood says no to gang violence.

Am I doing what the woman with that amazing voice did? Am I taking the possibility of a chance of a could-be too far? There's a chance. But if and when the time comes that someone confides in you their fears, turns to you in a time of need, what will you do? Are you okay with saying nothing, doing nothing, allowing a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger, to pass through life missing a piece of themselves?

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it."

16 Responses so far.

  1. Derrick O says:

    Great blog im following and adding to morning coffee!

  2. JoeyPo says:

    Following, keep it up man.

  3. Nice read...thank you. Following

  4. HillDog says:

    Nice post man, you should use some more quotes. I always to like philosophical ones, like Nietzsche ETC

  5. TWIG128 says:

    As I get older, I'm learning that everything is about moderation. Be bold, but not reckless; humble, but not timid.

  6. According to Darwin, people live by their full potential all the time. It's an instinct.

    Anyway, it all sums up to "don't be afraid to try", "try new stuff" and "try harder" etc..

  7. Quotey says:

    Yes it does. Unfortunately, sometimes those words don't get through to people. They ring hollow.

    And that's very interesting about what Darwin said. I had never heard that.

  8. Powerful stuff. I've always been one to try new things, it always bothers me when people around me don't want to actually get up and do something and see more of the brief glimpse of the Universe that they get.

  9. I'd rather have a ton of potential than to have used it all up.

  10. Wow.

    I don't know where to begin.
    This entry is stunning.
    It's not every day you wake up, check blogger and find such insight.

    Smith was a great man, in my opinion. Extremely insightful.

    Fear does drive people. It governs almost everything they do.

    Dig deeper, find the source of the fear. Not the specific fear, like fear of sharks or fear of clowns, but Fear itself.

    If one were able to determine that, and understand it, they would be free from it.

    Keep up the good work.
    Definitely following.


  11. Quotey says:

    Truly appreciate that. Thanks so much.

  12. Venus says:

    great message... keep up the good work

  13. LunaSihne says:

    This is really great..

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