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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 41 – Potential

School is FINALLY OVER! At least for summer but it is such a relief that we have some time just to chill. I will still be kind of busy with work at NASA and college visits and such but I will hopefully have more time to devote to the blog and podcast so look forward to some more great philosophy! I am also looking to expand my reach and advertise some more so if anybody has any ideas on where to start that’d be awesome! I made fliers and business cards and have started putting them up and handing them out and if anybody would want to help be that’d be awesome too!

So the inspiration for this post came from the last couple days of school looking at everybody who already graduated and those who soon will be. One of the coolest things I like to think about is where people will be in the future. I don’t know if anybody thinks about these things but I look around at all the amazing people that surround me in my life and try to picture where their lives will be years down the road. I think high school reunions are awesome because they allow you to see the progression of those you knew before their careers and adult lives really took off. We are on the threshold of adulthood and seeing the potential that people have I find is a very fascinating topic.

So having a good potential basically signifies a bright future and hope. It is basically what things have the ability to become. It is the view that in the future you will become great and one of the best but for now it is just a dream. How do you determine if someone has a lot of potential? There are many indicators and the main thing is that they are time sensitive. They show from an early beginning that there is a good chance that they will improve tremendously. These things can be determined numerous ways. One is through experts in the field that there are judging others on. Stephen Strasburg who is one of the biggest up and coming pitchers in the MLB was probably ranked and judged by other pitchers and trainers to determine his skill and what the future has in store from him. Through training camp they probably could see that Strasburg already had a lot of skill and would only become better in the future. People like him usually exemplify outstanding attributes that are out of their league and usually at a young age.

Potential usually is derived from two main things. The first is the current ability you exude. If you show a lot of promise you will definitely show out from the rest of your peers within your age group. You may in fact already be on par or better than those who are viewed as being in the elite group of the best of the rest. The second is the opportunities your surroundings provide. Here is another instance where your environment is a factor. You may be the best chef in your whole neighborhood but if you don’t have the opportunity to show people on a larger scale that you have what it takes to be the next great, they will never reach that status. I am sure we all know great singers capable of being the next hit but without things like American Idol, most have very slim chances of ever reaching such level. It is important to show the right people your potential if you want to make it big because skill alone is usually not enough.

These people who get noticed at a young age, like Strasburg, are what we call prodigies. These people hit the ground running and usually get a lot of attention early on. I don’t think anybody really knows how prodigies form. Maybe they just have the right DNA that allows them to show a lot of promise. They are basically omens showing huge improvement to raise the bar of what is currently the standard. I see in sports magazines all the time articles like “faces in the crowd” that show high school athletes you should keep an eye on because in the future they will be the stars. The one problem with these prodigies is the fact that they gain a lot of attention early on means that they have to live up to the hype. There will always be people who have so much potential and hype associated with them that it is impossible to live up to. This reminds me of She’s out of my League where they put a hot girl up on a pedestal but they will never be as good as you imagine because you believe that they are way better than they actually are. It is a huge disappointment when things don’t live up to expectations and it can make you feel like a failure if you don’t live up to the expectations held for you so sometimes it is necessary to have a reality check.

Prodigies are usually where the most potential is shown. Prodigies have a requirement as being young because potential and ability usually have a decline as time goes one. This is especially the case in sports where the body starts to decline limiting your abilities. The thing is though that it isn’t just sports where people show potential and other areas are less time sensitive. This is where late bloomers come in and how not everyone right off the bat shows the same levels of potential. You don’t necessarily need to have potential in the first place to become a great because there are instances where ability can seem to show up out of nowhere as people start to grow more and more. The benefit of this is that these late bloomers don’t have the pressures of living up to the expectations prodigies do because they usually don’t have any.

When I mentioned that potential doesn’t always appear in those that become greats, I feel like this is true in almost everyone. I feel like there is some sort of untapped energy that is within anyone and those that find ways to open it can become the best person that they can be. There are always those hidden jewels and gems who don’t realize what they have unless by a freak accident where they suddenly find out that they are the next Yo-Yo Ma or Pablo Picasso. I feel like the best way to find out such potential is through trying your best at everything you do and try as many new things as possible. There is some activity out there that you are bound to be amazing out, you just need to find it. I believe that everyone has potential; some are just more noticeable that others and everyone have a lot more to develop and progress into everyday of their lives.

I want to stress the fact that opportunity doesn’t always equate to success. There are plenty of people who were hyped up but didn’t go on to do any good but sometimes there isn’t any way to prevent it and things just weren’t meant to be. Potential represents the talk because they talk of the future. You can’t always show your actions now but you can continuously work towards them in the future. What you can do to make sure you meet the hype you receive is to practice continuously. I read in an article on the SAT’s that you need at least 10,000 hours to be considered a professional in whatever field you are working towards. It talked about how people with natural ability still need to work hard or they will never reach their potential. You are the one who needs to put things into action and not let others dictate what you will be capable of. While you can’t always change your potential or the hype that others set for you, you can certainly increase your chances for turning your potential into success and making all the hype a reality.

-Allan Nicholas

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