Have you ever been attracted to someone or something and fell in love with their/its potential?
Here’s an example.
I came up with the idea to start a personal blog in 2012. Once I shared a few posts and came up with topics to write about, I began to have a vision for the site. I started falling in love with its potential. So much so, that I invested my money into making it a business. I didn’t think about the “what ifs” the “maybes” or the risk that I was taking. I’d committed to the potential and put my entire heart in to it.
Here’s another example.
I met a guy and the more I got to know him, the more I became attracted to him. I didn’t place so much emphasis on the negatives as I did the positives. I saw him for the guy I knew he could be. I saw him for the guy he wanted to be. I saw him for who he was minus all the issues and the more I thought he was growing toward the guy he wanted to be, the more I fell in love….with his potential, not his reality.
What I’ve learned from both of those examples is that potential is not enough.
Potential means “showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future” or “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.” Nowhere in either of those definitions does it imply that whatever you see in a situation or a person will actually happen or come to life. There is an element of the unknown. You will be assuming some type of risk if you focus on potential because it’s not guaranteed.
With a business, potential can only be realized when there are valid signs and confirmations in the form of sales, publicity returns and so on. In human beings, potential can only be reached when that person sees it in themselves and is ready to do whatever is necessary to reach it. With people, them being ready is usually the major stumbling block to reaching their maximum potential.
What’s funny is that the guy told me, “If you’re going to talk to me, you can’t have any expectations.” I thought it was funny because he was basically telling me what I’d just realized. He may never be who I see him being or who I feel he could be. He knows it, so who am I to think more of him than he thinks of himself?
I even encountered this issue with former interns. I was sold on what I thought they could bring to the table without evaluating them for what they had shown me…what I had actual proof of.
From this point forward, I’m choosing reality over potential. I have to do this. If I don’t, I’m compromising my happiness and need for something real. Potential isn’t real. It’s just as much of an illusion as control is. Potential can’t possibly make me happy because it isn’t concrete. It hasn’t even happened yet! While a person’s companionship and friendship can make me happy, the potential can not. The money I think my business could make can’t buy me anything or pay any bills…only the money that I have in my possession will.
I’m making a promise to myself to pay attention to reality and not become so infatuated with what something can become. It’s good to look toward that, but I can only work with what is in the present moment. I have to decide what’s really worth taking a risk.