“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” –Michelangelo
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, motion picture camera, and the light bulb, three inventions which completely transformed the world. One man created things that still have a huge impact on our lives every day. He reached his full potential and look what he created. He thought outside of the box and created things most could never have imagined.
There have only been a handful of people throughout history who have reached their full potential, and look at the benefit to humanity they have been: Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Eli Whitney, Isaac Newton, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, just to name a few. What if everyone in the world reached the same level the previously mentioned people reached? What kind of world would this be?
Most people throughout history have not done much with their lives. Like I mentioned in my previous post, we tend to just wait around until it is time to die. We tread water, doing to least amount possible, in order to ensure our survival. Most of us focus on ourselves, without much thought to those around us. The people mentioned above did not live this way. They pushed themselves in order to become the best version of themselves as possible. Most of us will never come close to tapping into our full potential.
When you were in high school or in college, or if you still are, did you actually care about the information the teacher was teaching you? I know when I was in high school, I didn’t learn much of anything, but yet I was an honor student. How did I accomplish this? I simply figured out what the teacher wanted. For example, I figured out that the test questions came from the summary at the end of the chapter. I didn’t bother to actually learn the information. I just memorized the summary, then forgot everything after the test. I made it all the way through high school without having to learn a thing. Yes, I got an A in chemistry, but I can’t even begin to tell you the oxidation number of sodium or how to figure it out. I simply showed up for class, went through the motions, and received my A.
Most students, and people in the real world, are just going through the motions, while not absorbing any information at all. We believe we should just show up for class and get an A, whether we learn the information or not. Just complete the report and get an A, whether it discussed the topic or not. Complete all of your credits and get a degree, just because you paid your tuition. Show up for work and receive a paycheck, whether you accomplish any real work or not. This level of mediocrity can be found multiple places throughout this country. It is the mindset of, “All I must do is show up and I will be rewarded.” With this mindset, we are never expected to accomplish anything except the bare minimum. We never challenge ourselves to do more with our lives. We have grown accustomed to having others think for us or do things for us. It is easier to have someone tell us what to do, while getting away with the bare minimum, so that we will not be held accountable if we fail. We simply shift the blame to someone else; it is never our fault. Ask yourself: Do you really challenge yourself, or do you coast through life with unaccountable mediocrity?
President John F. Kennedy once said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Humanity can continue to take the easy way out or we can push ourselves to do and be better. If we coast through life, never accepting any challenges, sure it will be easy, but what do we really get out of it? The ups and downs are what make life worth living. We must learn how to actually apply ourselves and accept the challenges life hands us, instead of just going through the motions.
How do we begin to apply ourselves, while trying to reach our full potential? First we must decide to stop relying on and following others. You have your own functioning brain, use it. Don’t wait to be told to do something or how to do it. Figure it out yourself if you have to. Next, apply yourself. Don’t give up if it becomes too hard, keep going. The fact that it’s hard means that you are growing. If everything in life were easy, we would never grow or become anything better. For example, if you lift weights in order to grow your muscles, it burns. This is because the muscles are getting stronger. If you keep lifting 5 lbs. every day, you will never get any stronger. You must continue to push yourself with more and more weight each day if you hope to grow. You can’t go through the motions every day of your life and expect to reach your potential.
The key to being good at anything is first having at least some interest in it. You should not do something only because it is the next logical step in life or because it is what everyone else is doing. You need to follow your gut. You need to follow your heart. You need to find your passion. We all have the potential to be great at something, we all have the potential to change the world; all it takes is passion. When we are passionate about something, it drives us to go further than we ordinarily would.
Each one of us has something we are really good at and enjoy, we just need to find it, first. How do we do this? 1) Learn about a multitude of things until you find something that appeals to you. Are you really passionate about studying pre-law or are you only doing it because your parents want you to or because lawyers make a lot of money? 2) Have as many experiences as possible until you find something you feel passionate about. 3) Do not second-guess yourself. To quote my favorite movie, Back to the Future, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” You can accomplish anything you decide to accomplish. The only one who can stop you is you. Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Don’t die with your music inside of you.” Each of us has a song to share with the world. Right now, most of us have no idea what that song is, but it’s inside of you somewhere. It would be a shame for you to die without finding it and sharing it with everyone else. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and Steve Jobs didn’t die with their music inside of them, will you?