In the Training, Life Coaching and Support Services fields, people don’t half talk a lot of guff sometimes. One particular idea that has always made me wince is that everyone should be Fulfilling their Potential, or at least trying to.
At very least the suggestion that clients be ‘enabled’ to do so, implies they are already failures of some kind, and even more inaccurately, that the ‘enabling’ trainers or support service staff somehow ARE fulfilling their own potential, whatever that means. Witness obese chain-smoking support staff getting frustrated with clients who will not comply with their support plan to stop smoking or lose weight.
I’ve often thought: what exactly IS fulfilling your potential? Is it ever possible? Or desirable? Surely if you fulfil your potential to do one thing, you sacrifice the time and effort that you could have given to fulfilling it in another thing. In encouraging people to judge their worth by their performance, and implying a never-ending strive toward perfection, I think the concept probably does a lot more harm than good (unless a good trainer heavily qualifies it). I have concluded that it is therefore, technically speaking, pants.
The Potential Song
I hear you say you’re passionate to be the very best
But I’m not so sure about your definition of success
You suggest that to be worthy there’s one thing that is essential
That we should all be working very hard toward fulfilling our Potential
I understand you have a need to build your reputation
With power-suits and power-talk and powerpoint presentations
And I’m all for learning new ideas til I’m one hundred and three
But your constant striving way of life, it’s just not my cup of tea
Well I can only speak for me
And I don’t mean to be rude:
I’m not fulfilling my potential
And I hope I never do…
(I won’t be human if I do)
Would I like to maximise my outcomes going forward?
Just like every single other desperate corporate whore would?
Do I want an increased bandwidth social network interface
To enable me to get ahead of all the others in the race?
Potential is, of course, an almost infinite abstraction
And binding people’s worth to it will produce a bad reaction
Perhaps we’re all much better off with what is simple and what’s real
And not with being so obsessed by what we have and how we feel