Sunny is a 4-month-old blue gold macaw that has been hand-reared. He stands proud in on his favourite cherry branch in his outdoor aviary. The sun is shining and the air is still. He has stood many times there before looking at the 15-foot drop before him. He shifts his weight from his right foot to his left foot, swaying like a pendulum. He squawks gently to himself. His wings had grown immensely in the last 8 weeks. He bobs his head up and down and stretching his wings from time to time as if saying, “Should I or should I not? Are my wings ready to fly or shall I wait longer?” He sees a fully grown macaw flying from branch to branch. He turns back to see what is below him.
A gentle breeze picks up and it seemed to bring Sunny the confidence he needs. It seemed to remind him that he was a majestic blue-gold macaw and he was meant to soar in the skies, not scrabble around the ground or climb trees with his claws and beak like a flightless bird. His eye glistened. He stretched his wings, stepped off the branch, and flew a few metres before landing slightly clumsily on a low branch about ten metres away. He stood up and squawked as if proudly saying, “Did you see that? I flew! I am incredible!” And just like that, in that few minutes, Sunny had achieved something he did not before and became someone he was not before. In short, he had stretched his potential.
In life, you were born perfect. Even with any congenital conditions, you were still born with a perfect set of energy, ability, and soul that is unique to you. The potential in you is infinite. You learned how to walk without guidance, lessons, or courses. You learn to talk by mimicking all around you. You learn how to write, count, and achieve goals through lessons, determination, and diligence. Sure, you may have had teachers who taught and mentors who mentored but it was you who did it. With your innate ability and the support from the environment, you did it.
Maybe you achieved something amazing like completing your studies, obtaining a degree, or becoming the parent you always wanted to be. Perhaps it is simply improving your health or lifestyle, like quitting smoking, escalating your fitness, or eating healthily consistently. All this involves you stretching your potential to become the better version of you.
I remember in secondary school in Singapore, I was an average student. Consistently over almost 10 years, the teachers’ report is similar, along the lines of “Lennon is capable of better work”, “There is more that Lennon can give” or “I can see the potential in him”. It was always saying how bright I was but I have not “blossom” yet. There are people who live their entire lives “having potential” but not achieving what they could fully achieve if they had realised their potential. They did not become better or even best versions of themselves.
Einstein said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”. Have you ever felt that when you want to do something incredible, someone else (usually your family or close friend) will try to talk you down? They may say things like, “That is impossible”, “That cannot be done” or “Why do want to do that”? It is almost as if you had gone mad. That, unfortunately, is common because you are operating at a different level of understanding and awareness from them. You may persist on and continue to achieve what you set out to do, not only to prove them wrong but also to become the better version of yourself or you may give up and agree with them that you are being ‘impractical’ or ‘unreasonable’.
A more profound interpretation to the above saying would be you possess a great spirit and a mediocre mind. You are born with a great spirit that intuitively knows what is right and wrong (for you), what your potential is, and what your greatest dreams and burning desires are. No one else was involved in that thinking. Unfortunately, your environment including your parents, family, friends, teachers, and all things and everyone who makes up your surroundings has influenced your thinking and affected your mediocre mind. So your logical (but mediocre) mind (that is wholly made up of your past experiences from the environment you are in) thinks it knows best and tries to reason with your sovereign spirit. That is a mistake. Your spirit is the true wholesome you that you see and speak to in the dark and stillness of the night. It knows things that you cannot explain. Its knowledge is Infinite. On the other hand, your mind’s knowledge and information is Finite as it is only gotten from what you have exposed it to.
You have to learn to understand that you are not your thoughts. You are more than that. Learn to listen to your spirit and seek guidance from within. Greatness is an inside game, not an outside one. Learn NOT to believe yourself when you are talking yourself out of something. Learn NOT to listen to yourself when you are saying it is too difficult or it is impossible. Potential unexpressed turns into pain. In twenty years’ time, you will regret the things you did not do compared to the things that you did.
Sunny believed in something he thought he could do but have never done it. As a result, he flew. What about you?
“It is sad to see a child being afraid of the dark. It is even worse to see a grown-up being afraid of the light.” – Anon