I think all of us are born with the possibility of fulfilling our full potential. Babies are born wired for learning and children are naturally curious and eager to figure out the world around them. The more we learn and the more we explore the closer we get to our full potential. Inherent in this process is the need to feel joy in the experience of learning and doing. A child who finds something she loves to do will be completely devoted to the task, fulfilling her brain's desire to learn, and her heart's desire for joy.
Many things get in the way of achieving our potential. I used to think that a strong brain was the most important component for success, but I have learned that intellect is not the key element in determining whether or not a person can achieve her full potential. More important than the brain is the heart.
By this, I mean that the heart must be free experience joy. For it is in experiencing JOY that we find our full potentials. This seems simple, but I think that actually very few of us have grown up with a heart that is free to experience JOY. A baby who is left with a stranger to cry for 3 hours is not experiencing JOY, and it will take time for her heart to heal from that trauma so that she can again seek her full potential. A child whose parent controls every aspect of her life--clothes, food, friends, activities--cannot fulfill her potential because she is not free to explore. A child who learns that her behaviour must be pleasing to adults is stifled because she has not learned how to make choices that please herself.
Many parents think that their children will more likely make a BAD choice than a GOOD one if given the opportunity. But a parent who trusts her children will empower her with knowledge and opportunity and then trust her to make a good choice for herself.
When I was a little girl I learned a song that I now sing to my children (with a slight change in the lyrics:
You are a promise.
You are a possibility.
You are a promise, with a capital 'P'.
You are a great big bundle of potentiality.
And you are learning to use your voice.
And you are trying to make the right choices.
You are a promise to be everything that you want to be.
The original song, written by Gloria Gaither and sung by a child, can be seen here: I am a promise.
Singing the song to my children reminds ME not to get in the way. It is not my job to make them into people who will eventually reach their potential. They are able to reach it everyday, as long as I am not stifling them with control or unreasonable expectations. I'm just trying.
PHOTO: Jasmine the budding artist