Talent and Potential
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

     Last Sunday's paper had a business article that mentioned pro sports teams. Some teams are always referred to as having "great talent and potential." The article pointed out that such teams are rarely champions; something always stands between them and their top level of performance. In contrast, other teams are known for their success. Something in the character and makeup of these teams causes them to succeed when other teams fail. What is this factor?

     Growing up I often heard the old men say, "Potential means you ain't done nothing yet." Newton's First Law of Motion says that an object at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by some other force. I am paraphrasing, of course, but the idea goes back to another saying: "He's going nowhere, but he's going fast." At DCAC we see this scenario often. Students come to us with the talent or ability to succeed. but they consitently fail at school and life. The answer lies in a simple fact: talent and potential are meaningless without discipline and purpose.

     Think of it this way: the Corvette in your driveway looks great. You can look at it and imagine how fast it is and how much fun it will be to drive. If you never pull it onto the street, all that potential power is useless. That dress in your closet is really beautiful, but if it stays on the rack, it will never do what it is made to do. The Comet under your sink won't clean anything until you take it out and use it. All these items have the potential to do good, but without purpose they are useless.

     People are no different. Each is made with ability, a strength or talent that can translate into success. It is a form of potential energy. Left to itself it is wasted, and when pointed in the wrong direction it is harmful. The key is to harness the power so that it is used properly in the right direction. That brings us to discipline - the ability to do what I would rather not do, or the ability to finish what I would rather walk away from. Sometimes discipline means I don't say what I would really like to say or do something I think should be done. This is one of the most difficult tasks we have in guiding and directing our students. We talk daily about how their decisions affect their lives, and we concentrate on their understanding that perhaps they would be more successful if they would follow the values and principles they hear at our school each day.

     We approach it this way: how is your way of doing things working for you? Is it making your life better and easier? Is it getting you what you want? Is it bringing peace or conflict to your life? The answer in most cases is no, it is not working too well. At that point we introduce some ideas for thought:

     Would a different way of doing things bring you a better result?

     Have you considered that you cause most of the conflict in your life?

     Do you think that if you just keep doing what you do long enough, one day you will start winning?

     Is the anger you direct at everyone else hurting them or you more?

     None of us like to be told that we are wrong. We have to realize that life has a set of rules and does not care whether we like or agree with them. Life rewards those who learn to play its game by its rules; life has no sympathy for those who cannot or will not play by its rules. The world will keep turning either way, but people suffer when they miss out on what life offers because they cannot discipline themselves to make a goal and work toward it.

Think about it --

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