But, You Mean Well! The Painful Truth About Potential

potential“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” The quality of our lives begins with our intentions. Our intentions form our thoughts, our thoughts shape our actions, and our actions create our lives. When we move into and live with deliberate intention, we create conscious living. Without clear intention, our energy is scattered and our actions are less powerful. But, I know, you mean well!

I used to love rainy Saturday afternoons. I would stretch out on the couch for an exciting afternoon of whatever sport was playing. Beer in hand and comfy sweatpants on my butt. Typically my wife would find herself in the bedroom pecking away on the computer or hunting deals via eBay. She would do her thing and I would do mine. Why this particular Saturday was any different I cannot figure out.

No sooner than I plopped onto the couch and cracked open a beer I caught her silhouette in the corner of my eye. And it was heading my way. Without saying a word, her body language had scooted me over and she was stretching out next to me. My solo solace on the couch had come to an end.

What followed next was just as expected. My wife observed me engrossed in the television and began to ask all sorts of questions about whatever sport I was watching. She knew exactly what to do. In her mind, if she asked enough questions it would irritate me and I would soon shut off the television and she would have my undivided attention. Without going into details, that is exactly what she accomplished.

Please do not get me wrong, I absolutely adore my wife. We have been together for years and she is still my best friend and fiercest cheerleader. One thing we both strongly believe is even in an intimate marriage it is totally cool to have some “me” time.

After a few minutes of light banter, we began going over a few plans for upcoming events and a few other things that slip my mind. It was your normal everyday chit chat of married folks. And somehow we landed on the subject of our business. In recent months I shared I have felt a certain stagnation and it had become frustrating. Inside I was simply looking for some affirmation from my wife that things would rebound and we would be just fine. What I received, however, was both illuminating and challenging.

In response to my narrative about how hard I felt I was working, my wife uttered these words; “But I know you mean well” to reassure me she was in my corner as usual. I understood completely what her motive was for saying it, yet I felt a slight sting from the aftershock. You mean well sounds admirable on the surface. And some can find peace in that space. But when you earn a C- and know you should have done better, that is anything but reassuring.

As a coach, my wife and I work with individuals to move beyond the ideal of potential and begin to realize their performance. I believe that the most dangerous, most impotent place we can be is perpetual potential. Life slows to a lull when potential is engaged too long. Hoping someone at 17 utilizes their gifts is a lot different than hoping a 32-year-old will finally live up to those hopes.

Potential has haunted and robbed millions. In its wake, you are left with the dreams of what was and the cruel reality of what may never be. You are cut off from the vitality of optimism and forced to live far beneath your true status. I believe potential has three truths associated that we often misinterpret.

  1. Potential, if not managed, will turn into unfulfilled dreams. Have you ever been caught in the cycle of “someday?” We all have. We will get into shape…someday. We will talk more to our spouse…someday. And the list goes on. But how do we get there? The slow rocking of potential.
  2. Without accountability, potential doesn’t stand a chance. Who is holding you accountable? Do you have anyone in your circle who can call you to the carpet about the stuff you continue to blow off? The distance between a dream and the achievement is measured in accountability.
  3. Potential without action is DOA. I often tell my clients, “Less posting more working!” We can become intoxicated with the idea of the dream. It gives us the warm and fuzzies. But that will soon wain and you will be faced with a stack of dreams that are going nowhere. So add immediate action to whatever you are dreaming fast.

The truth is, my wife has a gift of realism that she sheds from time to time. I have relied heavily on her wisdom and candor more than I can count. She can be counted on to tell it like it is. So when she mentioned I meant well, that was a wakeup call. We can get stuck in a rut so easily that we miss out on the growth waiting for us.

Potential is the perfect rally point. The place we meet up and decide on a plan of attack. Imagine standing there at the starting line, stretching and preparing for the race. It is not, however the hill in which we sacrifice our lives. We are better than that. Potential must be acted on quickly to move our lives steadily toward the goal at hand. We can do this if we get real with how dangerous potential can really be.

Opinion by Early Jackson
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)

Image Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Early Jackson – Used With Permission
Featured Image Courtesy of Gerd Altmann’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License

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