Thursday, March 8, 2012

Unrealized Potential

I wrote this cartoon about 15 years ago. The sad thing is, I still feel like it applies to me as much now as it did back then. Some (ie. my wife) would say I'm being too hard on myself. I agree - I always have been. But the idea of this massive gap between what I feel I could have achieved so far, and what I have achieved still gnaws at me.

Do you think George Clooney feels like this? "Man, I wish I'd done Water World instead of all those Steven Soderbergh movies." Okay, maybe that's not the best example. George has probably got close to his potential - but that's from an outsider's perspective, maybe he feels he hasn't?

Then there's the people who seem to have miraculously obliterated their maximum potential as perceived by class-mates, family or friends (from now on known as PPQ - Perceived Potential Quotient). Whether it's a great career, a really hot partner, or an amazing sense of inner peace - I don't know how to feel about these people that seem to be so obviously punching above their weight...

That's an egg by the way, not an egg-like depiction of me. I have no idea what he's doing up there, why, or his chances of successfully diving into that glass of water.

But I digress ... I think one of the problems is I tend to assign a value to myself based on my achievements. It's kind of like a "what you do" instead of a "who you are" focus. There's probably many reasons for this - but I blame (and there - I've said the word - BLAME) - yes, I blame the time I was in U8's Little Athletics. I won a Gold medal at the State Championships in the triple jump AND broke the State record (I also won bronze in the long jump). The following two years I made the finals but no medals, and it's been all downhill from there. Every time I hear Bruce Springstein's "Glory Days" it takes me back to the good old days. Imagine how a real athlete must feel.

And before I go any further, I want to acknowledge how lucky I am. Just by living in Australia I am better off than most people in the world when it comes to health, education, government, financial, etc. Ask someone in a poor country about unrealized potential. That's the real tragedy.

WHOA BOY! Hang on a minute.

I have a confession to make. I spent countless hours writing and re-writing the rest of the post after this point. It kept changing, and it kept getting bigger and bigger, and more complicated. I've trashed it all.

At one stage I thought I was on to the Holy Grail - so profound and far-ranging where my thoughts - they were coming together better than those physicists attempting to find a unified theory of everything (my calculations ruled out string theory - Strings - Seriously! Theoretical Physicists are on another planet man).

I was ready to print my enormous blog out, take it to the nearest University, dump it on their desk, and ask, "Can I have my PhD now please? Just call me Dr Jeff."

But I was also losing sleep - and I was beginning to have doubts. I began to ponder whether my thesis was actually making sense - occasionally it might even be contradicting itself. And even worse, I began dreaming about the damned thing. I woke up, disturbed, and knew I had to make a choice. I could spend the next 20 years refining my theory, or I could let it go. I soon realized that, to be honest, I wasn't that smart. And the last three nights I'd barely said a word to my family - so intent was I on refining my discovery. If it went on like this I could miss out on 20 years of their life, as well as my own. So I let it go.

I will definitely come back to this topic one day - let's face it,  there's at least another 4 blogs worth of material. But I will say this: the cartoon at the top of this page was written by a guy in his early 20's. As you get older things change, priorities change. And it was based on a very narrow focus - CAREER. So maybe I've not achieved all I've wanted to in that realm of my life (and hopefully there's a lot of years left if I choose to pursue it), but as you know there's so much more to life. And in many of those aspects I think I've done okay.

So with that in mind, I'll leave you with this totally irrelevant and unrelated cartoon.

Creative Commons License
Journey into Stuff by Jeff Bilman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Please note, visitors to this website are solely responsible for the information they post. Any posting of copyrighted material is strictly prohibited and the owner of this website shall not be responsible for any copyrighted material uploaded by third parties.