Realising potential

19 August 2011

Realising potential

Remember those late night TV infomercials for Tony Robbins' “Personal Power”? I never bought the tapes, because I got his whole point in about five minutes. I enjoyed the ads though. They were a bit like that book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. Excellent piece of advice! No need to buy the book, it's all summed up in the title. Done. Do it, and move on.

'Realise your potential'. 'Be all you can be'. The phrases that are used so often shot through the pages of self-help books and in the tirades of motivational speakers can seem a bit trite on first glance (and can have a good deal of plain bullshit in them, as the brilliant Penn and Teller might describe it. Still, there's an underlying truth even in the worst pop-psychobabble.

I do firmly believe that it is a truly good thing to believe in yourself. Believing that you can be and do and write and say and draw great things, and then giving it a go, is surely a more enjoyable way to live than never doing anything because it's apparently all bullshit. You might not do it the first or every time, but the constant striving to be better and enjoying the process as you go – even if what you produce sometimes is crap – simply makes life better. (Check out this inspiring reflection on this fact by Ira Glass.) 

(Another lesson from a book title applies here: “Fail Forward”, ie. Fail often, fail early, and always fail forward. Brilliant. No need to buy that book either!)

Realising potential is a philosophy that's engrained in the Get A Grip program that I cartooned for recently. (The above 'toon is from that series.) Encouraging young people to realise their potential by thinking about the choices they make and helping them make smart ones is not empty psychobabble. It's a foundation for life.