1 992. In a village in Western Kenya, the English/Literature teacher asks his Class Eight Students to write an essay. When he comes back with the results the next week, he is all smiles. Incredible stories have been written, but one stands head above the rest. I am invited at the front of the class to read my story. I do so with pride. From that moment on, the first position was always mine.
Fast forward three years later. I am in Form 3 in High School. The English teacher gave us an assignment to come up with an Essay and this time round, she does something interesting. She invites another English teacher to mark our work. When the results come back, I saw this comment on my paper, “Has great potential”.
Question: What did we do with that potential?
Answer: I don’t know, maybe there were more important things in life to do
Question: What things?
Answer: Study hard, pass exams and get a University Degree
You know the drill.
You see, the most forgotten thing around the world is potential. The human race has the most dubious reputation to be the only species that always stifles their potential. We live way below our privileges. You cannot say the same of trees, birds, worms, fish or animals.
The most forgotten thing around the world is potential. The human race has the most dubious reputation to be the only species that always stifles their potential.
What do they do? They just grow. They just do what they are supposed to do oblivious of the fact that it is an impossibility.
But for the humans, opposition to potential starts from early on.
So we bench all the potential that we could have exploited in order to satisfy the pressures of other people. The man that could have been a powerful speaker is at the bank as a teller. The woman who could be a powerful business lady is at home taking care of children (nothing wrong with that).
The thing is that we have no problem taking action. Every single waking day we as humans are running helter skelter trying to pay bills and put food on the table. We are never short of actions. We are action packed from morning to dawn for the rest of our lives.
The question is: Are the actions we are taking feeding into exploiting, excavating and cultivating our potential so much so that it can be deployed to help other people. Potential when well nurtured benefits just more than you and your family.
I dare say that when you find yourself doing things that are selfish, only serving you and your family, chances are that you might not have fully exploited your potential. For when it is fully exploited, it makes a voice into a call for racial injustice to end. It makes a painting by a certain Van Goh (who committed suicide and died broke) cost millions of dollars centuries later.
The answers that we are seeking in life (paradoxically as we are all over the place running around with activities) are found in us all along in that one word: Potential. Perhaps the most sinister thing about potential is found in its definition—unused, untapped, dormant ability. Can you think about that for a minute?
Perhaps the most sinister thing about potential is found in its definition—unused, untapped, dormant ability.
In other words, we have possibilities around and within us that are wrapped up and hidden in potential. And yet, all along, we are looking for answers in life from different places. Why is that? We hit many walls and come to very many dead ends all along carrying our potential. Why is that?
I will tell you why. It is because potential is now an unconventional thing. It is something that is supposed to be excavated from us. However, that is not how our systems in life work. Our systems do not excavate things from us. In fact, our systems assume that there is nothing in us to excavate. Therefore, they are designed in such a way that we are to have things poured into us.
Never mind about the potential. That is what our systems are saying. Mind about how much this person can assimilate and replicate/remember. That’s how smart they are deemed to be. Is it any wonder then that the eucalyptus tree fulfills its purpose while more than a million human beings die with their potential intact?