Why You DON’T Want to Achieve Your Potential

Why You Don't Want to Achieve Your PotentialDuring a conversation with a effectiveness consultant friend of mine whom I respect highly, I made a comment that I have made many times before. This time, perhaps because I was finally ready to hear it, it reverberated back in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

I said, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m not living up to my potential. There’s a gap in between myself and what it is I know I can do.”

I know what I expected the answer to be. It was the same stream of consciousness I’d been down countless times before. This time though, the conversation took an unexpected turn.

She asked, “What’s in the gap?”

I thought for a moment. “An experience of disconnect from what it is I know I already am.”

In the next moment I realized that there HAS to be.

The dictionary defines potential as: Potential:(n) something that can develop or become actual.

By definition, it is something that does not exist yet. The moment it does exist, it is no longer potential, but in fact reality.

Inherent in the experience of “potential” is a disconnect. Potential, then, is a description… a pointer that describes the experience I have of the gap between where I perceive myself to be at this moment and where I know I can be. “Should” be. “Want” to be.

This is where the seduction lies. Potential then, is always available, it just hasn’t been reached yet, but it could be, if only… blah blah blah….

It is the sense of being without something – as though that something would make me more. It is the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick, which seems just within reach… yet somehow always remains just out of reach. Experiencing myself in relationship to my potential means having to stand in the experience of wanting things to be some other way than they are right now. Wanting in the sense of an existential longing. I have to give up the experience of myself as I am which is totally whole, simply becoming what I am becoming. The other way I know I can go is in the delusion of “acting as if”- pretending as though I have reached my potential, in hopes or in anticipation that it will be realized. Again, the red flag here is the experience of being without something- the experience of being removed from what it is I am becoming.

Then in that instant… I realize that in fact I don’t want to live into or up to my “potential”.

I prefer the experience I have of myself when I consider being like an acorn where the entire oak tree is already present, or a lion cub where the entire adult lion is already present- just not fully realized… yet. It is inevitable, and it requires the interdependence with others to come into being… operating within a system that is larger than how I experience myself to be when I am perceiving myself as a lone individual. Again, I am becoming what I already am. Like this, when I “want” something it is like a pull in a particular direction- a direction I know is a total fit and match.

The becoming is always present. There is an utter sense of fulfillment while simultaneously knowing I am becoming this and will never “get there”. I am whole and complete- every step of the way.

Like this, the entire system simply comes to rest. Yet in that resting place… there is incredible energy to be doing whatever needs to be done. I do what needs to be done in the next moment to support my movement toward that becoming.

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