To reach your potential, get out of your way!

We miss our potential because we are too busy trying to reach someone else's

acorn seeds | conceptt of built-in potential

Most individuals stand in the way of reaching their potential. As a noun, the word ‘potential’ means something that is capable of being but is not yet in existence. So if you ask an acorn seed what its potential is, its answer would likely be “I have the potential of becoming a mighty oak tree”. Likewise, a bud on a rose plant may say, “I have the potential of becoming a beautiful and fragrant rose flower.”

The acorn seed and the rose bud already contain within them all that is required for them to realise their individual potential—that’s a guarantee. And what’s also guaranteed is that neither can become something else, even if they want to. So the acorn seed can’t grow up to become a mango tree, however hard it tries. The rose bud cannot bloom into a lily, even if it works diligently towards it.

Everyone has built-in potential

You and I too have built-in potential to be as great as possible. But I can’t be great in the same way as you. And you can’t be great in the way I can be. Most of us miss this rather simple truth. This is most evident in the case of raising children.

Somehow parents fail to see that each child is different, with a built-in potential unique to him or her. One child has the talent to be a painter, another has the makings of a dancer, yet another has the competence to be a scientist… the possibilities are unlimited.

Yet, parents find it difficult to let their children simply be and instead keep trying to make them into something that they feel is right for the child—not without disastrous results, of course. For example, a potential painter who ends up studying medicine winds up being neither a good painter nor a good doctor—he becomes a potential nervous wreck.

Watch out for self sabotage

It’s not just parents who display such behaviour. More often, individuals themselves miss their potential in the longing to become something they are not, because that’s the ‘in thing’ or because there’s more money, more power or more fame there. Seldom do they ask if that’s what will help them reach their highest potential.

Oak tree
Every acorn seed can become a huge oak tree

Nature teaches us that left to its own, every acorn seed will become an oak tree, and every rose bud will become a rose flower—provided it is nourished and its process of reaching its potential is not hampered.

Left to your own, and provided you stop interfering in the process (also called self-sabotage), you too will reach your magnificent potential—it’s in your nature. All you need is to get out of your way.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


  1. i really liked your article, because i have the same problem i am a good painter but i am just studding mechanical engineering because of the high salary they get mm i don’t know what to do????


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