For most of my adult life I have coached many sports with players ages four through eighteen. I’ve coached brand new athletes and those that have high aspirations of future success in their respective sport. As a coach of athletes in high school where the competition is greater, there is perhaps nothing more frustrating than seeing an athlete not fulfill their potential. And sadly, it happens quite often.
The word potential means “possible, as opposed to actual” and “capable of being or becoming” and “a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.” Each of these imply a future outcome. A good coach can see the potential in their athletes. A great coach can tap into that potential and see it come to fruition.
Do you know that we all have the potential to be great? We all have a “latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.” God placed within everyone the seeds of greatness; but not everyone will live up to their potential. And, as I mentioned before, there is nothing more frustrating than knowing one’s potential and seeing it unfulfilled. To know you are “capable of being or becoming” a great athlete, dad, mom, husband, wife, business owner, etc., yet not fulfilling that leads to a frustrating and discouraging existence. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Potential unfulfilled.
So the question begs to be asked. How do we fulfill our potential? Without going into a lot of detail, I believe these are three key requirements. The first one is belief. One must believe that he or she can be great. Without belief there is no success. Second, one must be teachable. If someone is unwilling to be humble and teachable, there will be no improvement. And third, one needs a coach/mentor. It bears mentioning that having a coach or mentor is worthless if we are not willing to learn from them. This is where some of the greatest frustrations for a coach come from; having an athlete with great potential who refuses to learn, grow, and be challenged. We all need a coach, a mentor, a guide to lead us through the mine field of life. A coach or mentor is someone who has been where we are trying to go who has fruit on the tree of their life which we would like to have on ours. And a coach or mentor can help fuel the belief in us that we can accomplish great things in life.
Orrin Woodward wrote in his book Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, “Even though all human beings are born with the urge to climb, and there are billions of people in the world, the mountaintop remains practically empty. What happens to all of life’s mountain climbers? Most end up compromising what they truly want for what is immediately available, unwilling to endure the painful climb becoming given-ups instead of grownups.” Potential unfulfilled.
Let that not be said of us. May we not be counted as those that give up, but rather be those that discover our God-given purpose, become teachable students, and find a mentor or coach who can inspire belief in us to be all that God has destined us to be. The potential is within us. Develop the conviction to live a life of fulfilled potential and so leave a legacy that will encourage others to do the same. Get out there in life and win the game.