What is your potential?

“When you do not live up to your potential, you rob the world of something great.”

It never fails to amaze me when I see so many students in the martial arts that could be the next rising star. One in particular was a girl who we will call Robyn. Robyn was a bright young woman that I have had, the honor of teaching. She came to class on a regular basis and did what was required of her, which was good enough, if you are looking to “get by” However; I saw more potential in Robyn, as did the other instructors. After observing her in class for a couple of weeks I saw that little by little she would get a little bit lazier in what she was doing. Her punches and kicks were not very strong, and often slow, and her forms were not well executed as they could have been.

I pulled her to the side one day and asked her, “If I gave you a hundred-dollar bill, would you wad it up and throw it in the trash?” She answered, as I expected, “No.” “Then why is it you are doing that with your talents? Don’t you think you are worth more than a hundred dollars?” She replied, again as I expected, “Yes.” “Then why not push yourself to do better with the potential that lies within you? You have so much more inside you that you could be one of the best out there, but you do not utilize your talents to reach that level that you need to be.” With that, I left her alone with her thoughts.

If there is one thing I have learned is that the martial arts have a tendency to push us up to, and beyond, what we thought we could do. Through our blood, sweat and tears, we develop this indomitable spirit that we hear so much about that lies within us all. For those not familiar with the term, it is the driving spirit that helps us crash through the walls of obstacles that lie in our way towards are our goals. We all have the ability to achieve success in whatever we choose to do in life. Some people have “natural” talents while others work hard in developing their talents. However, it does not matter which category you may be in, if you do not utilize or develop your talents to their full potential, you are just throwing them away.

What is your potential? Have you ever stopped to think about it? What do you feel you could actually be good at if you applied yourself fully? Take a few minutes right now and think about what you could achieve in your life if you really wanted to. Pretty cool eh? To think of what you can become if only you live up to your potential. So why not do just that. Like Robyn, you are worth more than a hundred-dollar bill, so if you are not willing to throw away a hundred-dollar bill how are you able to just throw away your potential?

“You can sit around and let things happen to you, or you can stand up and make things happen for you. God gave us free will. Use it wisely.”

To many times I have heard people tell me they wanted to accomplish this or that but then something happened to them which prohibited their chance. Notice what I said, “something
happened TO them.” Why did it happen to them instead of for them, because they were too busy thinking about what they would like to do instead of just trying to do it. The great song writer John Lennon wrote “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” Remember that just having potential is not enough; you must work hard at achieving it. This
doesn’t just happen simply because you read a book or decided “Today is the day I will do something”. No. You must go out there and get things rolling. This is probably the hardest part of the whole matter because you must be willing to change who you are. The old habits that you have been executing have not worked. There is an old saying that goes “God helps those who help themselves.” Regardless of your religious beliefs, or non-beliefs, the underlying message is true. Nothing is just going to happen, you have to go out there and make it happen. In the story of Moses we see that he just didn’t stand around and wait for God to let his people go. He had to confront the Pharaoh and he had to lead those people out of Egypt. He had to find his potential as a leader and live up to it. This is the same for you.

“You can give yourself hundreds of excuses as to why you are not working towards your success, but there are very few reasons to justify your inaction. Answer to no one but yourself and be your harshest critic.”

Oddly enough, I find that even though so many of us have the potential to achieve great things, we, more often than not, stop ourselves from achieving them simply by saying “I can’t” and the proceed to give a full blown detailed plan on why you come to that conclusion. “I can’t because I’m too busy at work.”, “I can’t because the kids need my attention.”, “I can’t because I don’t have the money.”, “I can’t”, “I can’t”, “I can’t”. We all have our circumstances which prohibits us from instant success, but that does not mean that we can never achieve it.

Let’s take a look at why you feel you can’t. Is it because you truly believe that you have limited physical, financial, or time resources? Or is it because society has told you time and time again that you can’t because of these short comings and you just choose to subscribe to what they were saying? After all, it is far easier to give an excuse to why you can’t than it is to give a reason as to why you can. Martial arts teach us that no matter if you are a woman, or if you are a minority, or if you are handicapped, or if you do not have a vast amount of time, you can achieve your goals. The potential is inside you. You merely need to tap into it.

In any type of battle, be it combat, schoolwork or day-to-day business, we put ourselves against our worst adversary, ourselves. We can make or break our accomplishments simply by the mindset we subscribe to. Saying “I can’t” is a self-fulfilled prophecy of certain failure. It is natural to feel self-doubt, but the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is the determination of pushing past the self-doubt. The world is your oyster, which makes any goal you set your pearl. In order for you to get that pearl, you will be met with challenges. You have the potential; you simply need to remember that “If you think you can’t, then you are right.”

“Give something away for free and nobody wants it. Charge a penny and people will kill for it. Place value in yourself if you expect people to do the same.”

First rule of achievement is simple; if you do not believe in yourself, do not expect others to believe in you either. There is greatness in us all, but not all of us become great. Contrary to
modern thinking of some people, America is a country of great freedom and opportunity. It was built on the idea that each person has the potential of making their dreams come true, but, amazingly enough, the only people who seem to still subscribe to this are foreigners. I have had the honor to speak to many people who started off as immigrants, but then became American citizens later in life. The underlying story of each was the same. They came here because they knew that they had the opportunity to achieve their dreams or provide better opportunities for their children. They came here because they realize they have potential to be better than they are. So why does this elude many Americans who are born and raised here? It is simple, we are never taught to place value in ourselves. You don’t believe me? Ask yourself this, if someone pays you a compliment what happens? Most likely you get a bit embarrassed, or you quickly come back with a negative about yourself to offset that compliment. Once you begin to realize your potential, you will begin to place value in yourself and as result you will quit belittling yourself and learn to accept a compliment with grace as you should.