I Hate Potential

Potential is pointless.

So often I hear people say, “there’s a lot of potential in this kid,” or, “they have so much potential” or even still (and worst of all), “but they had so much potential.”

It’s great to recognize potential and foster the growth of students, children, new workers, athletes, musicians, or whoever has this magical potential, but there is no point in talking about someone’s potential if that potential never gets kicked into action. 

Potential without action is pointless.

I direct a marching band in summer. It used to be bigger. We’re growing, kinda. People at the beginning of the year said “there’s a lot of potential for the group this year.” As a director I agreed and thought it would be a good year, but then we really started digging into the season and working and I realized just how useless any of these potential comments are. I don’t want to be associated with a  group that is labeled as having potential. I want to be associated and work with a group that is striving to achieve their highest and best possible performance each and every moment in practice and on the field. That goes for any performance of music, athleticism, and academia. 

If at the end of a journey I am still described as having potential I have failed. What’s worse is if my students come in with so much potential and then they leave my classroom and get to the next one and the teacher says that they still have potential.

Potential needs to be burned up like rocket fuel. 

It needs to be set on fire in a controlled explosion of knowledge, practice, patience, performance, diligence, and perseverance. Rockets sixteen stories tall are completely filled with fuel which only lasts for about forty five seconds of engine burning. 

So stopping sitting on your sixteen stories of rocket potential and start burning it so you can force yourself off of the ground and to new heights. There is absolutely no point to sit on a fully loaded rocket for twelve years of education, or twenty years of sports practices, or forty years of a career. No point at all. This is lazy and irresponsible. It breed complacency and fosters mediocrity. Four things that I will not tolerate in my future classroom and that I will attempt to never let seep into the work I’m doing as a creative. 

There must be a way to change the social connotation of potential. Maybe it involves a worldwide physics lesson about potential energy by showing a giant ball falling and creating kinetic energy. I don’t know, but it has to change. 

The only way anything will change is through conscious decisions to leave the past behind and move forward in a new direction. Examine what hasn’t been working and do better. Strive for excellence. Don’t go on until everything is perfect. 

Perfect practice will destroy pointless potential.

Set potential on fire.

Burn for the skies.

Never be called someone who has potential ever again.