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.







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