TED Conversations

Kaleb Roberts

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Have you realized your potential?

How did you do it?
Did you just one day wake up, work hard and suddenly you're at the top? Or are you struggling every day, not realizing it, sitting at a desk, watching these TED video's and praying for a better life.

If I may ask, what are your individual stories behind your passion and potential?
Was it starting a company in you're basement, knowing that you could do something better? Or inside a multi-billion dollar company starting in the mail room, then suddenly working on the thirtieth floor?

People's stories, especially on topics like this, really really interest me. I want to learn from them, so maybe I can realize my potential. Any thoughts?

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  • Dec 30 2012: I joined just because I wanted to reply to this. I have learned that trying to realise your potential is probably a false aspiration. I believe we are all capable of many things and are often...very often frustrated because we are thwarted in our personal desires. I believe I still have personal potential that i will fulfill but life keeps calling me to other things. They are my responsibilities because I love the people I spend time with, It might not be the best use of my time or energy but I won't do otherwise. Having said this I have managed to have a lot of fun. I have lifelong friendships and a healthy happy environment. I have had a fulfilling career despite wanting to do something else and I am very glad I have lived my life this way. Things go wrong, things go right. Things always change, nothing good lasts forever neither does anything bad. The very focussed will think I have been a straw blowing in the wind. So be it.
    • Dec 31 2012: I think this is a very healthy view to be honest. Full potential is not just about a career, full potential is about how you live your life, relationships and the people you touch and touch you along the way.
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      Jan 9 2013: Dear gwer, I am so glad that you joined TED, your view is extremely refreshing :-)
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    Dec 22 2012: One can never "realize" the full potential because as a person grows so does their potential.

    I build resilience into my life meaning I keep learning so I can respond to opportunity and by being prepared I can bounce back from any adversity. Financial resilience is at the core of realizing ones potential. Once we develop a residual income that frees us from a "job" we can devote our time and resources to accomplishing what is important to us.

    When we reach our goal, we set a new one. When we move each day a bit closer to our goal, we are living our life to its full potential.

    In Hawaii, we call it living pono. It is living a life in balance with all things, in harmony with our environment and with those around us. Creating strong, trusting relationships is vital in our lives. Without them, we cannot live our life to its full potential. Working alone, we are limited. Working together, we can create miracles.
  • Dec 27 2012: The day I realized my potential was the day my son was born. From a broken home , a runaway discarded child of parents who both had new and improved version of the American dream that of which I didn't belong I was constantly looking for a love strong enough to make feel as if I was worthy of being loved. That came in an amazing package of a 7lb 12oz ball of love that was all my own! My son didn't grow up with a father but with a mother who was more then both. No one could possibly be loved more then him, no one! Some years ago when I fought colon cancer my son at the age of 16 stayed by my bed while I suffered through chemo sickness and wouldn't let me wallow in my sickness he made me bed dance with wii! He also carried up and down the steps so I didn't feel like the walls were closing in on me. When people found out I was sick their first thought wasn't oh poor me it was what would my son do without me. We have always been that close. I beat cancer in no small way because of my son, the same way I beat the helplessness of my childhood with totally pure love. My son is on his way to becoming a surgeon and seeing the amazing gentleman he has turned into I know I reached my potential. I was put on this earth to be his mother and every other accomplishment I've made in my life dims in comparison with the pride I feel knowing he has never known one single second of feeling unwanted or unloved! And that from a runaway-thrown away child who my parents didn't deserve!
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      Dec 27 2012: Mrs Goncalves,

      That is absolutely amazing! Congratulations isn't near enough. I've honestly never looked at a single mum in this light, it's entirely different. I really hope that sometime in the future (The near future I hope) when I have kids, I hope and pray that I will always be able to look at them the way you look at your son. Thank you, your point of view is a breath of fresh air.
      • Dec 28 2012: I think it's wonderful how many folks seem to learn to see themselves more fully after having children.
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          Dec 29 2012: Hi Max,
          I think/feel children teach us a LOT about curiosity, trust, honesty, compassion, respect and unconditional love....they demonstrate all the "potential" we have as thinking, feeling, growing human beings.

          Then we are told to "grow up", and sometimes we lose sight of our potential.
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      Jan 9 2013: Marlene - I send you and your son love:-) your story is one of the most beautiful stories I have read in all my life !
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    Dec 25 2012: The term "realized youtr potential" bother me on a personal and professional level. That is like the Army's "be all you can be" Shoot the target 10 out of ten times and your set for life. Did someone write on your birth certificate .... s/he will be a accountant at the age of 32 .... nothing to follow.

    Who has the right to decide your potential ... when a boss says you are not living up to your potential ... what does that mean. His intention is most likely to kick start you into greater efforts but to you he has said "I ain't happy" with you.

    Do your best everyday .. stay out of the office politics ... do not fool around at the office .... after that it is up to fate.

    I did a job for a young colonel in the military ... he made general ... he called on me often for other jobs ... I rode his stars to a successful career by doing the jobs he gave me the best I could. Sometimes you just get lucky.

    That brings me to the conclusion: You can influence the outcomes in your life. Prepare for your challenges through education .... do your homework ... apply yourself ... be honest and sincere in your dealings with others.

    If you accept that you have no more potential then others will also believe that too. Hang in there.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Dec 25 2012: Thanks for serving your nation. I aqree we can never realize our own potential. The folks at our funeral can make an effort to do that. Be well , and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
  • Dec 24 2012: We have so much potential as people that even the most accomplished people are only using a fraction of what we are capable doing in this life. We run out of life way before we run out of potential.
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      Dec 24 2012: Potential:
      "existing in possibility; capable of development into actuality..."

      So, I agree with you Dan...we probably run out of life way before we run out of potential. To me, it feels like potential is unlimited....unending....in fact, with that in mind....maybe we still have potential even after this human life adventure!
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    Dec 22 2012: Wouldn't a "yes" answer be tantamount to saying, "That's it. I can do no more."?
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      Dec 25 2012: I was more hoping that a yes would be an equivalent to "I can do more in this single direction what's next?" Although you are correct, my question doesn't reflect that.
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        Dec 26 2012: Thanks for a provocative question Mr. Roberts. In your reply here did you mean to say, "I can do NO more in this single direction what's next?" I can only speak for myself. I understood your question to be asking if I have done EVERYTHING I am capable of doing in this life, i.e. "realized my potential". If you did not intend the question to include such a wide scope my answer would be different depending on your revised wording. Thank you!
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          Dec 26 2012: I'm glad you find it provocative, it's nice to know people find my questions intriguing. Again, you are correct, for some reason that I fail to remember, I did not place the "No" in my revised question. So now you have me very curious as to what your answer will be.
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        Dec 26 2012: I guess my answer is not appreciably different. If the focus is on a specified area or task, and we say we have realized our potential therein, then we are saying it is unlikely that we will impact the issue anymore favorably than we already have. I remain reluctant to make such a statement. Ask me if I can surely accomplish a thing and I may answer, "I don't know." Ask me if I will surely try to accomplish a thing and I will answer, "I will."
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          Dec 26 2012: That is very wise, I've suddenly found some more food for thought..
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    Jan 10 2013: To put it as vaguely as possible, there is no such thing as realizing or reaching your true potential. This idea of people having a maximum potential is contradicting to the idea of potential itself. You must first ask yourself what you want in life. Is it money, love, friends, family, a successful career, knowledge, the list goes on and on. As far as I see it, ones potential increases daily since we learn things everyday, good or bad, knowledge is experience. You can not limit yourself by stating that I have reached my potential because I believe potential is exponential and changes everyday do to the decisions you make and the things you want in life. Keep learning, keep living and do what makes you happy. If you forget to think for yourself, you will be trapped in this narrow minded society that tells you there is a limit to ones potential. Potential is endless and so is your knowledge, so stay true to yourself and don't let anyone tell you that you've reached your highest potential, for potential has no limit except the limit you put on yourself. Kcco.
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    Dec 31 2012: No one ever reaches their full potential because the more we learn the more potential we have. Potential is a moving goal post.

    @Blend Frangu is absolutely right when he says, "there is no opportunity to improve or develop your creativity in anything here unless it makes you prosperous or loaded with money". Our potential is always limited by our resources. We have to have the time and money to pursue our dreams. All to often, we are self limiting. "those burning desires and vision started to vanish" and we loose our dream. It is the tragedy of our times. Unless you are very lucky, your job will not full fill your dreams, nor will your job allow you to fulfill your potential.

    Making a lot of money is not fulfilling your potential. It is what you do with that money that allows you to pursue you dreams. My life mission is to help people understand what we must do to leave this earth the kind of place we want our great-grandchildren to live in.

    Iʻve learned to write and to use photography and video to share the story of our earth. Iʻve learned to share my message with others using the media including the internet. Iʻve learned to use the internet to create the income I need to fulfill my mission and I teach others to do what I do.

    To the extent that I am successful at sharing my message, I am reaching my potential. I reach out to others to form relationship that help us work together to create income and work for common goals.

    We have to strike a balance between caring for our family and striving for our goals. Build strong relationships with others and do something every day that brings you closer to realizing your dreams.

    Bill Sager, bsager42@gmail.com, kumuwaiwai.com
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    Dec 28 2012: Hey Kaleb,
    3 years ago I realized I was unauthentic and not reaching my full potential as a human professionally and personally. The last 3 years have been extremely painful and wonderful at the same time. I had to look at myself honestly and ask how I was going to change to reach my full potential. I'm still a work in progress, I suspect I will use the rest of my life to grow and expand as a person. What has helped me overcome hurdles in personal growth is getting into therapy, reading these TED discussions or listening to TED talks, getting my hands on anything and everything from people who have a similar story. Learning from their mistakes/tribulations and applying their work to the work I do for myself. I've always had this feeling that I could be more, but wasn't sure how to accomplish becoming more. I think with a community like TED and with our own intelligence and that of others we can all find a way to be the very best version of ourselves. Hard work and finding a mentor have been life savers to me. Hard work, I can do all on my own. Finding a mentor can be difficult or challenging, but I hope you find someone! When I haven't had a mentor in my life to bounce off professional/personal ideas that's when I reach out to TED, listen to podcasts, reading books by Napoleon Hill, Jillian Michaels, Mike Dooley, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Sam Harris, Robert Kiyosaki etc. Lastly, believe in yourself. This is the best advice I've ever received. Because once you know you can do something, there's no stopping you! Good luck with your journey, may you receive all that you desire!
    Krista
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    Dec 23 2012: Hi Kaleb,
    I believe I have reached my potential at any given time, and there is always more potential.

    The basis of this feeling or belief is that life is a journey, and at any given time, I am reaching the highest potential in that particular moment. For me, it is not about being "at the top", unless we are refering to being "at the top" in that moment. I do the best I can throughout the life journey, and a part of that practice means NOT struggling, or imagining a "better" life in any way. I LOVE being fully engaged in the moment...whatever opportunity the moment offers:>)

    The only "story" regarding passion and potential for me, is to "BE" all that I can "BE" with whatever situation I am moving through in the life adventure. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, mother, friend, TED participant, former owner of small businesses, former competitive athlete, retired professional actor, model, singer, dancer, gardener, mentor, volunteer in several social services agencies, guest lecturer at the university, survived cancer and a near fatal head injury.....

    We can realize our passion and potential in each and every moment by being fully present and engaged with all of life.....in my humble perception and experience:>)
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      Dec 24 2012: Hi Colleen: I think you have a very precise and smart idea about life journey. I completely agree with you. I think that one of the most fascinating experiences one can develop is just trying to do our best on a new and unknown challenge. If not, life lost a great part of its sense.
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        Dec 24 2012: Thank you Sean. I LOVE living life with the curiosity of a child and unconditional love. The life adventure is, as you insightfully say, fascinating:>)
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          Dec 25 2012: I agree with you. For those of them who hadn't a nice childhood and for everyone, to live with a huge curiosity is one good way (or the best?) for never begin to die, for renew oneself constantly, for making the best use of our time and energy. It's very curious for me, because what you think about that point is just the same as I think about, and I try to convince to my friends about that's a very good way of thinking.
          Or telling it in other way: If one don't see life with child's eyes, one is beginning to die. (Somehow).
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      Dec 24 2012: so you are saying life takes place now
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        Dec 24 2012: In my humble perception sir, yes...now. This moment has never "been" before, and will never "be" again....it is the only reality. I know you know this:>)
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          Dec 25 2012: Otherwise it is sort of like driving down the road by looking in the rear view mirror.
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        Dec 25 2012: Yes....or like letting your wake run your boat:>)
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      Dec 25 2012: Hi Colleen,

      You talk about living now, how can I do that? I know it should be an easy thing to understand, but for some reason, I find it very hard to fathom. I've learned to be grateful for the simplest of things (Watching the sunrise over the islands in the harbor for instance) Perhaps I'm greedy, I'm not sure, but I feel like there has to be more than this. I don't believe in working all day every day to gain financial happiness, but I do it. I want to change the way people see the world, again I have no idea how to do this. Maybe I'm just not capable of being satisfied. I'm just to hungry for life's experiences and lessons. Are things always like this?

      I know it sounds strange (It sounds strange to me as I'm writing this) but there are nights I cannot sleep, because of this burning hole in my chest. This isn't caused by anything physical, rather it's what drives me. I cannot sleep knowing that things in this world, (even just in this one town) are the way they are. Is this normal for people who want change?
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        Dec 26 2012: Hi Kaleb,
        It sounds like you are already living in the NOW. I find that gratitude is a big part of being fully present and mindfully aware in the moment. What is the "MORE" you are seeking?

        Do you think/feel it might be helpful to be clear in yourself before trying to change how others see the world? I find the best teaching method is to "BE" what we want to "SEE" in our world.

        You say..."maybe I'm not capable of being satisfied...just hungry for life's experiences and lessons".

        I have been told a couple times that I am never satisfied BECAUSE of my desire and love of learning, growing and evolving in each and every moment:>) I AM totally satisfied with each and every moment, AND I KNOW there is MORE learning and growing, which I will be doing until I take my last breath on this earth school:>)

        Life is what we make it....don't you think? In my perception it is always about learning and growing. I don't generally lose sleep because of the way things are. As thinking, feeling, intelligent, evolving human beings, we have choices. I choose to be clear about how, why, when, where and with whom I spend my time and energy.

        It is unrealistic to think that as individuals we can change our world. It IS realistic, in my perception, to believe that we can CONTRIBUTE to change in our world.....yes? If we are losing sleep because of our thoughts of all the things in our world that need changing, we may not be using our time, energy and potential in a productive way? The body and mind need sleep to function well.

        How about choosing one thing that you will pursue in your desire to change the world? It depends on your time committments, finances, skills and talents, etc. at different stages in your life. For example, when my kids were little, I volunteered for activities that involved the kids. When I retired, I spent time and energy volunteering with social services agencies. What are YOU capable of, and interested in doing right now?
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          Dec 26 2012: Hello Colleen,
          For some reason, that just clicks. Right now, I've started (with my room mate who happens to be a local Priest) a group called Illogical Arithmetic. Our current project is starting the inside out project here. We've started to undertake this so hopefully it will open peoples eyes, and then they can see the sunrise. Maybe even each other.
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        Dec 27 2012: Kaleb,
        We all have the potential to teach AND learn with any process. So, I strongly suggest that while you are teaching "them" and putting in effort to "open people's eyes", you also open your own heart and mind to learn from "them". We often teach what we need to learn. Your idea of opening other people's eyes is a noble cause, and it suggests that you know more than they do? Are more insightful, evolved or more intelligent then they are? Everyone has something to teach us in every moment, and with the understanding of this concept, we use our full potential to teach AND learn:>)
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    Dec 23 2012: I haven't yet but I am about to.

    "Did you just one day wake up, work hard and suddenly you're at the top?"

    No, I woke up one day with out power or heat, after hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US, then I got really pissed off and decided to change things.

    Potential and getting to the top are not the same, it is not a step by step process someone can tell you how to accomplish. It is not something that can be taught. It is not about waking up one morning and saying, "hey cup of coffee, then I should do something and draw a chart of my future actions".

    It is about making a change. It is about being consistent and following through. It is about ignoring all of those people around you that say "that is impossible" and moving forward. It is about taking and balancing the risk and stepping on the fires that come up.

    In the end you make your own future.
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    Dec 23 2012: I think realizing your full potential is doing something you are passionate about, something you strongly believe in.
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      Dec 24 2012: Live that passion. I call it my calling. If your career and your calling are not in sync, make a change. If your job doesn't let you live your passion, it is time for a new job, or better yet, your businesses that lets you live your passion.

      What are you doing? Are you living your passion. Do you set goals based on your passion? Do you do something every day that moves you closer to your goals?

      We should never reach our full potential. If we think we have, it is because we have stopped growing and have failed to live our passion.
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        Dec 24 2012: I agree William.........love what we do, and/or do what we love:>)
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        Dec 25 2012: I'll agree with both of you, that is an excellent way to put it. Thank you guys,
  • Dec 22 2012: I know that I have plenty of potential, I don't know how to use any of it
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    Jan 20 2013: Well I guess I am that one person who's watching TED videos and finally doing something... I guess somewhere along the way I met people who wanted me to believe that to have a better life I have to forget about my dreams and do all that "is expected" of me. Including most of my family members.
    I found about TED only few months ago, at first didn't really pay it any attention, but now I cannot go a day without watching at least one video.

    After spending time here, it just made me realize how RIDICULOUS it is NOT to follow your dreams... your passion. I mean... I was raised to believe that there's only one path for everyone. You are good at science? Go, study science. Art is a "no-no". You don't need to DISTRACT yourself unnecessarily with something like that.

    As I said. Ridiculous and narrow-minded. And it just made me scared that I'll be a failure in other fields. But to move forward, you need to accept that failure is a part of life. And you never know what you might excel at :)
    Now I feel free knowing that if I want to paint... I'll paint! I want to learn a new language? Why not give it a try?
    So I would say that I am still in a process of finding myself, but I am really glad I took off the blindfold and am finally seeing the world full of all those vivid colors.
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    Jan 19 2013: The day I will stop realizing my potential will be the day I will die. I even think that some of my thoughts and efforts will continue after me through my friends, family and colleagues, fading slowly with time. I want to leave a legacy.
  • Jan 8 2013: I don't think I'v realized my full potential, but in another way, I have; if that makes any sense. I'v gone through life (being only 18) being nice as possible to everyone and helping as many people as possible. I'v only completed one semester of college and that has already taught me a lot. There was one point in my life (senior year of high school) where I was sure I had everything figured out. I entered college deciding to major in Business, but since then, I have changed my major 3 times. I am now majoring in Management with the option of HRM. I chose this because I really like solving problems and making sure things are done right, I'm kind of a perfectionist in a way.

    I know all of that was a little off topic but I think I was put on this earth to help other people and make sure things are done right.

    I hope all of that didn't sound to cliche but in a way, I think I have found my potential.
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    Jan 8 2013: No, I don't think I've yet to realise my potential. One thing is for sure though- I don't think potential can be realised in a day. It took me years to find my calling and now that I've embarked on this road, it will probably take many more years before I become the best that I can be. To realise your potential, I feel that you have to be passionate about a cause or idea. Next, you have to work towards that cause. Many failures will take place before you realise your potential because it takes a lot of learning and a humble attitude to realise that you have so much more to learn. Even then it takes more learning and growing before you finally feel that you have attained your fullest potential.

    Personally, I'm not there yet so I wouldn't know what it feels like. :)
  • Jan 8 2013: well first advice would be to beware of people and especially publications that try to tell you how to realise your potential. your potential is mostly indeterminate, and if anything is able to influence your potential it's usually others. i can tell you what has been working for me though:

    strive for efficiency - improvement always comes about through trying to get more out of less, say making customers happier without increasing the workload. this raises what you are able to achieve and what you will next be able to achieve.

    be dubious - any idea you have about how to make something better will by definition be amateur, because it's new. spend at least a year mulling over and trying to find holes in your plans, so that when you try them they have the best chance of success and you are less likely having to flounder to fix a problem you hadn't foreseen. so many people who "know" they could do something better actually just don't have the information to understand that their ideas are terrible.

    don't ask - other people are also dubious, it's just a part of human biology, and they don't have the same experience. plenty of secretaries' great ideas have been shot down by a boss who's never spent a day as a secretary! be careful with though, of course. start small, and work up to bolder ideas as your standing grows - it's easier to forgive a $10,000 failure to a salesman with a 5 year history of consistent success than an upstart who hasn't yet landed a major deal. it's unfortunate, but clout matters.
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      Jan 9 2013: " If anything is able to influence your potential it's usually others " - Ben I feel this is one of the best statements I have come across - ever!!
      • Jan 9 2013: these days it's not up to the teachers, it's set by education departments, psychologists, principals (who no longer teach, remember!) and school boards.

        it's interesting you chose that talk. ken robinson is great speaker, and his studies in english and drama mean that's hardly surprising, but he hasn't taught a single class in his life so it's also hardly surprising that he has no idea what he's talking about. everything he has to say sounds great but is detached from reality. it's people like him who have no experience in education but feel compelling to dictate what should be done that are the problem. creativity is important yes and ken mentions how creative all those TED speakers were, completely ignoring the fact that they all had a decidedly non-creative education which gave the the knowledge and skills they would need to then be able to take the next step creatively.

        i myself love kids designs of things like buildings, they always come up with imaginative ways to make skyscrapers that look like giraffes and such, but of course they couldn't actually be built because things like gravity and shear stress don't vary according to how creative the builder is, and things like elevator shafts and plumbing need to be taken into account. learn about the world first, then apply creativity. there's a reason the phrase "starving artist" exists in the english language.

        perhaps you can think of a situation where suppressing a student's creativity would help them reach their potential?
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    Jan 6 2013: I hope not! Based on average life expectancy, I have approximately 25 years left. The thought of not growing during that time is depressing.
  • Dec 24 2012: Conversations about potential are usually meant to motivate people. Sometimes they do the opposite, by making people feel bad about themselves. In a sense, personal potential is a myth because we can never know anyone's potential. One of humanity's most pleasant characteristics is our ability to surprise ourselves with our accomplishments.

    Perhaps a more pointed question would be, are you using all of your talents?
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      Dec 24 2012: I agree that the concept is bogus which says there is some particular set of skills built-in to everyone and we must strive to know what set we have and learn to live within the confines of that set.
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        Dec 25 2012: @ Juliette Zahn: Sorry, we have discouraged you. I think, I understand what you mean emotionally and I agree with you :-) Words are not the best way to communicate. Wonderful holidays to you too...
      • Dec 26 2012: The real problem to solve is discovering what your strongest skill-set is. That is the most difficult puzzle for me to solve.
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          Dec 27 2012: Often people are good at something that they don't like doing. And often people are not passionate and energetic enough to make effort to do what they like. E.g. many people enjoy to exercise, but they don't like the effort. That complicates the puzzle...

          Lady Gaga's "Born this way" song makes it sound as if anyone could be a rock star. It may be inspirational, but does not seem to be true. My favorite quote from Eeyore "we can't all and some of us don't" sometimes sounds more encouraging :-).
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          Dec 27 2012: Tedd and Arkady,
          Sometimes, it may seem like a puzzle because we (humans) often try very hard to "think" about it and put it into a logical, reasonable structure. To be aware of what I love doing, I first "feel" it....what makes our heart sing? What brings bliss and joy to our lives? What is the activity we can get lost in? Once something draws me with a "feeling", then I use the logical mind to work out the details of how I will pursue the goal.

          Arkady,
          You say..."often people are not passionate and energetic enough to make effort to do what they like. E.g. many people enjoy to exercise, but they don't like the effort. That complicates the puzzle..."

          I agree with this....sometimes people simply want something without putting in the effort?
          To use your example, they may like the RESULTS of exercising, and don't really want to contribute to that process. Do you think that some folks have a sense of entitlement? It seems like I observe that in our world.

          For me, part of the pleasure of reaching a goal, is being aware of the effort I put in to reach that goal, and I'm wondering if that may be a piece of the puzzle that some folks are missing? Contributing the effort is a big part of realizing our potential, in my perception. There's no fun in having something handed to us. In my perseption and experience, it is the journey....all of the journey.....which contributes to potential.....and......everything else IMHO:>)
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      • Dec 24 2012: I disagree. I think Edward is correct. Any estimation of our abilities will be grossly underestimated. When faced with a crisis, especially when survival is at stake, people are capable of redefining themselves and accomplishing the impossible. "Human potential" can only limit us. We must use a better vocabulary, that avoids any limitations and emphasizes the importance of our choices. We do not find ourselves; we invent ourselves.
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        Dec 25 2012: Juliette, what you say, although is well-intended, does not make sense.

        Re: "personal potential being a myth because we can never know anyone's potential" This is exactly why personal potential is a myth. How often those "teachers" of whom you speak consider a student hopeless, and the student grows up to be a successful businessman? I can dig examples from personal life or other sources, but you may agree with me.

        Re: "Every person knows inside their deepest heart what their potential is. No one else." This seems to contradict your thesis that teachers can know potential of their students. I can also argue that we don't know our own potential either.

        It still seems to me that "potential" is a matter of faith. This is one of the mysteries of our life that religions capitalize on - read the stories how David became king, defeated Goliath, etc. I don't think, this concept can be rationally explained. We can only appeal to emotion here as in many other areas of our life.
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      Dec 25 2012: We cannot do more than we can, can we?
      We all have a limit, but the beauty is that we don't know it. This creates illusion of "potential". It all comes down to faith. We set our own limits in our head. I'm not sure if this mental exercise is useful.
      • Dec 25 2012: That is exactly my point. The concept of potential is not useful, certainly not as useful as inventing ourselves. Starting out by putting limits on ourselves puts limits our selves. Not useful.
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        Dec 25 2012: Arkady and Barry,
        I think the concept is useful and a fun exercise...another cycle:>)

        Arkady,
        You say..."We all have a limit, but the beauty is that we don't know it."

        Could it be that we are all UNlimited, and we create our limits? I agree that "we set our own limits in our head":>)
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      Dec 25 2012: Re: "Starting out by putting limits on ourselves puts limits our selves. Not useful."

      "Putting limits" is deciding what we cannot do. That is not useful. But is it useful to decide what we *should* do with our life? E.g. if I decide that my potential is to become a scientist, doesn't it mean closing myself to other possibilities?

      I would agree with you that the best approach is to "invent ourselves" by finding out what we love and doing it without much concern of what we can or cannot, should or should not do. Sometimes, even what we love does not matter. We simply have to deal with what life throws at us.
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        Dec 26 2012: Arkady,
        Perhaps we can focus on one thing for awhile when we feel we want to pursue that goal, and that does not necessarily mean we close ourselves off from other possibilities....does it? It hasn't meant that for me anyway. I have passionately, excitedly pursued what I loved doing, at various stages of the life adventure, and that continues to change.

        While pursuing what we love, it also helps to use our logical, reasonable mind to help guide the process. I think/feel it's important to be practical and consider everything else that is happening in our world, like family, finances, etc. Pursuing what we love without consideration for people and circumstances is probably not using our full potential:>)
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          Dec 27 2012: Yes. It's like riding a bicycle - turning a wheel where we lean so that we don't fall while keeping a general direction in mind and, sometimes, taking scenic routes when we like it or detours when the road is not what we expected. Sometimes we just have to get through that sandy road or get off the bike and push it up the hill.
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        Dec 27 2012: I LOVE the metaphor Arkady, and wholeheartedly agree.....it sounds, looks and feels a LOT like balance!
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    Dec 23 2012: No
    I feel realizing one's full potential means end of her/his HUNGER to do anything else.....how does that sound?
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      Dec 24 2012: Reaching ones potential is another name for giving up. Potential grows as we grow. The goal post moves as we grow. If you allow others to define your potential you will never achieve your potential.
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      Dec 24 2012: Salim and William,
      Potential:
      "existing in possibility..."

      Salim,
      I feel "hungry" for possibility, and I believe "potential" grows as we grow, as William says. So, if we feel that we have reached the end of our hunger, or potential, it feels like giving up possibilities to me.....what do you think about that?
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        Dec 28 2012: Colleen
        I feel HUNGER is the magic .....What William said about potential's potentiality to grow happens if one can keep that HUNGER sustained....
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          Dec 29 2012: Salim,
          I think I understand what you mean when refering to hunger as a motivator in relationship to potential. Perhaps it is our individual image, perception or interpretation of "hunger", because I cannot say that I ever felt "hungry" for potential. In fact, I've most often felt very "full" with potential, and it is that fullness that has been a foundation for growth:>)
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        Dec 31 2012: Good day Colleen
        I guess we are talking same thing but in different laguage or from different perspective....
        Feeling "very Full" which you referred I guess by saying so you wanted to mean a state of self full fimilment that's fine if that does not make one complacent. On the other hand lack of self fullment may turn one in to state of frustration....resulting into emission of negative energy so we need a balance between two...

        From my cultural backdrop I am sharing a saying in my language that says "it's healthy to keep one's stomach a bit empty, full full eating is killing"......wonder about origin of such proverb in my socio cultural backdrop ....may be despite being one hugely resourceful my country historically was poverty striken , where for a great proportion of people it was a luck to eat full stomach a meal in a day....so that proverb came as a solace.....neverthless full full stomach is really not good for health...

        Let me take POTENTIAL as metaphor of Stomach....and HUNGER is the desire to fill that. Whatever can be one's POTENTIAL if one can keep the HUNGER alive s/he can use her POTENTIAL in a much better way....That's the point I wanted to shed light on....

        Happy New Year
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          Dec 31 2012: Hi Salim,
          There is another saying that may apply here...
          Necessity is the mother of invention. When we are "hungry", perhaps there is sometimes more motivation to find food (potential)!

          My parents went through the depression, when many things were scarce. When I was growing up (after the depression) we had a huge garden, my mother canned food, and we always had a HUGE supply of canned home grown food in the cupboard. They may have been hungry at times, and by the time I came along, there was an abundance. Perhaps that is where I got my perception of always being "full"!!!

          I agree that sometimes, if we feel too "full", it can lead to complacence. Perhaps I am kind of odd in that respect....I usually feel full, and I am aware of another level of "fullness":>)

          In my perception, every moment offers opportunity and potential, so it is a never ending gift and possibility. I wholeheartedly agree Salim....it is about finding BALANCE, and whatever perception we have in our quest for that balance in ourselves is good:>)

          Wishing you a safe, loving New Year my friend:>)
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    Dec 22 2012: If it has be realized, then it ceases to be a potential. Right?
  • Dec 22 2012: I have achieved greatly due to my innate tenacity and work ethic but my ultimate goal to reach my full potential will never end until I am dead and buried. EVERY DAY is a search for full potential
  • Jan 19 2013: I totally agree with colleen and william. Its really a great thought. To reach to your full potential, follow your dreams, follow your passion. Love what you do n do what you love and sky is the limit.
  • Jan 19 2013: I'm halfway through my 68th year and I'm still realizing my potential every day. Every person has a different goal in life, and I became aware early on in my life that I wanted to learn new things - every day.
    I have been:
    Triple-threat, multilingual stage performer
    Recording artist
    Union sound tech
    Sculptor
    Painter
    Writer
    Working Chef
    Graphic Artist
    Web Designer
    Webmaster
    Teacher
    Life is long if we're lucky, and there is plenty of time to do the things we really want to do. And I still strive to learn something new every day.
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    Jan 14 2013: In it's own definition potential is considered as what's possible as opposed to what is actual. Embracing that definition I would say yes! As my belief of what's possible increases and expands my ability to actualize strengthens. Having obliterated deadlines many times in my life, done what others said couldn't be done, defied belief (or lack thereof) through repeated actions makes me say yes. Years ago a friend of mine that is a very well known singer and I were out shopping with several friends. As the two of us broke away from the pack she shared with me that one of the things she liked most about our friendship was that I was not envious of her popularity or fan base. Immediately I shared with her of course not because my clients treat me the way her fans treat her!

    This one exchange enabled me at an early age to determine what success and achievement really are. Success doesn't mean you're a household name. Look at how many people are famous for doing nothing. Success or reaching my potential for the sake of this forum is being the highest and best version of myself at that moment, where I am with what I'm doing. Knowing that more will be added to me as I progress along. My framework may be different than others. That's because it's mine.

    You see, ever since childhood I was affirmed that I had something worthy of listening to. I would grow up and refer to it as being a voice and not an echo. Responsibility (responding to the ability within) comes with awareness. So, as I continue to evolve and grow my new definition of my potential grows as well. Kinda like the saying, " what brought me here, won't take me there". I look at challenges, obstacles, obstructions, dilemmas all as guideposts and tools to get me to my new "there".

    They are all life lessons that refine me which is why I embrace them readily!:~)
    • Jan 14 2013: I would say you must be a confident and charming lady in yoru life because of self-affirmation. In fact, most people tend to lose themselves especially in current modern life. Finding our personal values are more informortant than to do something profound. Good luck, everyone.
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        Jan 14 2013: What a nice thing to share Zac thank you. I agree with you there are so many things pulling and yelling for our attention carving out My Daily Practice is tough some days. Good luck to you too Zac!

        Jacqui:~)
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      Jan 14 2013: You say " I look at challenges, obstacles, obstructions, dilemmas all as guideposts and tools to get me to my new "there". I quite agree with your thinking .
      However,in a calm time of one's life,he or she might consider things that way.If one is fall into a bad ,even hopeless situation,the idea is gone .After that hard time ,the thinking will be back again .
      So ,It's meaningful in our life how to make the thinking in our mind all the time.My opinion is that making some friends who have the same idea you mentioned ,may be helpful for our absent mind in that painful time .He or she would give you a prompt at the time.
      It's my framework and my humble opinion ,not offense men.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Jan 13 2013: Potential is a value judgement based on possible future outcomes. It passively infers a deficiency of ability in the present or a mythical ability that will be magically realized.

    I believe focusing on present strengths and setting incremental, attainable goals to build a tangible path to success. Potential is a chimera that creates feelings of failure or delusions of grandeur.
  • Jan 13 2013: Everyone maximizes their potential every moment of every day by definition. We all have our individual strengths and weaknesses. Our support mechanisms and our self sabotaging behavior. The question seems to beg for an elitist response of back patting. If I could do more, I would. So would you. So would the homeless person sleeping in an alley. So would Steven Hawking. For me, the question only makes sense if you start dissecting the elements that go in to making a human being. Feeling superior to someone who is struggling with life because your genetics and circumstances have allowed you to be more (fill in the blank) is the same as criticizing a paraplegic for failing to run a marathon. Can we improve? Of course, but only to the limits of our potential to improve which is defined by factors which are primarily out of our control
  • Jan 12 2013: To become what we want to become, we always need self-confidence.We need to dare to do what we know is right even if nobody is watching us.Unfortunately, very few people have enough self-confidence that last a lifetime.Therefore, if we want to succeed and achieve our goals ,we must work on our self-confidence everyday.There's not much we can do without trusting ourselves and in our capacity to grow.I would not be where I am today if I did not believe in my ability to grow and prosper.
    It is not enough to have self-trust but it can help us do all we need to do to achieve our goals.
    Some of the best ways to increase self-confidence are to read biographies and advice of successful people and to mingle with positive people.That's what I have been doing for more than a decade.
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    . . 100+

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    Jan 9 2013: Please forgive me for answering your question with a question.... isn't this the kind of question that could really only be answered at the end of one's life?! :-)
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      Jan 9 2013: Of course you are forgiven ma'am.

      I think you're right if you are speaking of ones full potential.
      When referring to one's potential I didn't necessarily mean a full potential, rather a certain direction of the potential. For instance, with my current job, I've reached the top of where I can without devoting my life to it (which I'm obviously unwilling to do) so now I want to start in a new direction.

      With any luck, at the end of my life I will be able to look back and think I did well with most things, and realized my full potential in a few.