Coffee and Human Potential
It’s late in the morning. I take a cup of coffee to my desk and sort through email messages. There’s one from a magazine publisher. I can win thousands of dollars if I answer a few questions. That’s a fair reward.
Most are binary questions. Yes/No. Agree/Disagree.
And then when I least expected it, this question: Human potential is about going beyond one’s comfort zone to achieve what was once out of reach and inspiring the extraordinary possibilities that exist in all people. Truth is, with the right tools and passion, anything is possible. In your own words, please tell us what human potential means to you?
The previous questions mostly had to do with validating the magazine publisher’s quest to create content that helps me live vicariously through celebrities in order to create an attractive space for advertisers. Those questions had an interesting impact. They made me stop and think about how we, as a society, are framing the concept of human potential. If we approach it the way this question frames it, we’re telling people, Go big. Or go home. Be extraordinary or don’t bother.
So I provided an answer that likely will remove me from this magazine’s future questionnaire invitations.
“Potential,” I wrote, “is another word for possibility. Opportunity is another word for choice. Each of these four words is ruled by chance. Human potential is a natural progression. It will happen regardless of the tools. Passion is the only prerequisite.
“Tools are things. Thoughts are things. We will always have the tools as long as we continue to be inspired and pushed to be passionate.
“I think it’s dangerous to ascribe adjectives such as ‘extraordinary’ to the idea of achievement. It’s easy to turn off more minds than you spark. Who are we to decide what is mundane and what is extraordinary in terms of human potential?
It’s like adding a modifier to ‘unique.’ Not necessary. Let achievement stand for itself. We cannot all be tomorrow’s Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. What will we remove from our world by making people feel that only extraordinary feats should result from using the right tools and passion?”
I believe we should all dare to step outside of our respective comfort zones to make changes for ourselves. That’ll make changes for the world. Human potential will take another step forward. An ordinary step forward won’t get us to Mars, or avert the consequences of global warming. But, every advancement can’t be exponential. An ordinary life is an extraordinary accomplishment.
The magazine publisher, it turns out, was only interested in my thoughts on Infiniti brand vehicles. I’m glad, though, that they took a circuitous route. It wasn’t their intention, but thanks to Infiniti I will now strive a bit harder to encourage people to kick ass at being ordinary.
What’s wrong with being ordinary? It’s not a consolation prize.
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