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Capacity versus Potential

When we are young, people ask us “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Without preconceived notions about what is expected of us, without external or self-imposed limiting beliefs, we are free to dream about what our future might hold. We are able to let our interactions and experiences of those around us guide us as we imagine our futures.

But as we get older, the focus stops being what we want to be and our unlimited capacity and instead becomes “What are you qualified to do?” and “What are you doing to achieve your true potential?” We get caught up in the daily grind and the lives that we’ve built for ourselves that we lose that ability to truly be present in our daily lives and to live into our days rather than just living through them.

I recently came across this quote:

“I say unlimited capacity rather than unlimited potential, because potential can be a dangerous concept. We can use it to tyrannize ourselves, to live in the future instead of the present, to set ourselves up for despair by constantly measuring ourselves against what we think we could be rather than what we are.” Marianne Williamson

I love how Ms. Williamson points out what many of us have probably experienced as we’ve tried to project our future lives.

  • Am I doing enough?
  • Am I doing the right things?
  • Am I using my gifts and talents in the right way?
  • Will I achieve all that I’m capable of?
  • If I don’t, will I be unfulfilled?

By focusing too much on the future – by worrying about what we could be versus what we are now – we are missing out on the greatest gift that we have. Today.

As I continue to work through my own journey and do my own mindset work, I find that I have too often focused on my unknown and immeasurable future potential rather than my unlimited capacity to make a positive impact in the present: the here and now. I have handcuffed my present-day self by trying to live for tomorrow rather than living for today. And since no one knows what tomorrow may bring, it’s unnerving to think of continuing to live my life this manner.

Being present and living into your day are two concepts that carry incredible power if you make a conscious decision, have a true desire, and actively work to be successful in these areas.

So, are you willing to do the work?


About the author, Tim

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