You’ve got potential

Your potential has no limits. Only you can decide how far you can go. If you trust your inner voice, you can do what you do best today and every day.

Pretty Woman remains one of my favorite movies, and not only because I swoon a bit for Richard Gere. Many lines from the movie caught my attention. This exchange between Vivian and Kit near the end of the movie has stuck with me. Their conversation reminds me that everyone, without exception, has potential.

Vivian and Kit

Kit: Whoa. Whoa. What is this?

Vivian: It’s part of the Edward Lewis scholarship fund.

We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca.

Kit: You do? You think I got potential?

Vivian: Oh, yeah. Don’t let anybody tell you different, okay?

Jason sat staring out the window lost in what? His imagination, his pain? Day after day, I watched students try to fade into the background of their life. Like Jason, many others never believe in their worthiness or the immense potential waiting. One small step forward could unleash the power within them.

Working with adult teams, I often saw the same painful stare. Stuck in a team, a position, a job that wore them down until they could see no other path.

Sometimes I find myself lost in what the next step should be. When what I should ask is, “what can be” not” what should be?” What possibility waits for me?

Wisdom to stoke the fire of potential

“Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love!
What you can accomplish and what your potential is.”
—Anne Frank

A young girl, wise beyond her years, recognized the potential hidden within each of us. Was it instinct or her longing for hope within the confines of those attic rooms?

When you hide your potential, you miss the good news of yourself. We miss the love and greatness that only you can give.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
—Anais Nin

A day comes when you cannot contain the fire. The searing within you becomes so painful that you dare to take the first step into what’s possible.

I saw this with my own daughter. From the time Juliane was five years old, she knew she wanted to dance. This blond-haired twirling girl begged to go to ballet class.

We didn’t have the money for that. Juliane only begged more. Finally, I saw the longing in her eyes and the tremble in her voice. To not dance became more painful than taking the chance to ask, again.

She went from one lesson per week at seven to dancing six days per week when she turned 13. She danced with a grace and beauty that brought tears to my eyes.

What if I had not given that bud inside her a chance to bloom? Our daughter used dancing to grow, to mature, to become her best self in the studio, on the stage, and in business.

I am a human being, meant to be in perpetual becoming.
If I am living bravely, my entire life will become a million deaths and rebirths.
—Glennon Doyle, Untamed (p. 77)

Becoming has consumed my entire life. Over and over, I reach a pinnacle or a breakthrough only to discover that I still have growing to do. A door closes. I search for the next path and reflect on past learning to uncover the potential I keep hidden.

To bring that potential to life, I must risk showing up without regret. The pain of remaining a bud has become harder than risking exposure of my thoughts, my beliefs, my words.

Life brings hard things. Do you have the courage?

Courage to unleash potential

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”
Robert Tew

Letting go of people, jobs, habits feels like a tug of war between comfort and the agony of uncertainty. Even when the people and a job become toxic, you stay because leaving seems harder—until it doesn’t.

“Put your oxygen mask on first.” You must breathe before you can help someone else breathe. Taking care of yourself allows you to make space for what serves you to grow, love, and become your best.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Words have power. Thoughts have power. Words and thoughts serve as conduits for dreams and hope not yet visible.

My sweet niece visits every summer. The first summer she came, Zoë didn’t know how to swim and stood hesitant on the wading step. With fear on her face, she wanted to jump into the pool.

“I can’t do it. I don’t know what will happen. What if I sink to the bottom?”

Standing a few feet from her in the water, I assured Zoë I would catch her. I told her she didn’t have to try to swim today. If she didn’t feel ready, she could play on the step and try later.

But oh, how she wanted to swim. Zoë looked at me with determination. Because not swimming became more painful than taking that first jump. She jumped into the water and as I caught her in my arms, she began to shout, “I did it.”

And she did it again and again and again until she could swim the length of the pool.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.
—Maya Angelou

Brené Brown points out the original definition of courage focused on the Latin root of the word, cor (heart). To have courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

You can learn how to live your life with courage, speaking and living your truth. But the potential to do that has always lived inside of you.

This truth encompasses my purpose, my life. I believe every person has within them potential beyond their own understanding. Don’t ask me how I learned this. An indescribable ache overtakes me when I look into your eyes and see what you have hidden even from yourself.

That may sound strange and way too out there. I have never found the language to describe what I see. But I know that you can be and become more than you have allowed yourself to imagine.

Finally, “Be a Hell Yes to Life”

Potential in action means saying “Hell Yes” to life. Leo Babauta encourages us to live beyond our self-imposed limitations. Instead of living life, we shrink and make ourselves small. We try squeezing ourselves within the boundaries we created. Rather than staying in the little bud, Leo asks us to “Be a Hell Yes to Life.”

What if you could be a Hell Yes to everything? What would that change for you?


What if you could be a Hell Yes to all of the difficult things in life:
your scariest project, the hardest tasks, the most boring moments?

What if, for only a moment, you said yes to your potential? What if you did this every day?

We think you got a lot of potential [your name]!

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy