Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My in-laws and I were having a discussion a few weeks ago about the idea of utlimate potential. I have the relatively firm belief that unless you are clearly incapacitated in some way with a specific physical defect that causes a mental or physical impairment from normal function of your faculties... that anybody can be/do just about anything... but at a cost. Some people are better at some tasks than others. For example, there are some people for which Math is second nature. They can do calculations in their head that would take me hours to do with every possible tool at my disposal. Does this mean that I'm incapable? Does it mean that they are super geniuses? No on both counts. Instead, I posit the notion that anybody is capable of anything, but with the right amount of practice.

An example: I am 5' 8" tall. Water Polo goalies are usually at least 6' tall. Many of the goalies that I routinely competed against throughout high school were over 6' tall. After tons of hard work and dedication with in-pool work, running, weight training... the team I played with spent a solid 4-6 hours each night practicing. In the mornings, we would spend an additional 2-3 hours practicing and conditioning. That meant a solid 6-9 hours each day perfecting our craft. In the end, I made honorable mention for the All-American team for Water Polo. We twice got second place in our CIF section (a defeat at the time, but looking back, a victory). This taught me that I could do just about anything to which I'd set my mind.

However, as I continued on to college, I learned the corollary. There are limits placed not by capacity, but reason. I arrived on the water polo team and found myself as a fourth-string goalie. The three goalies ahead of me averaged 6'10" and the 3rd string was 7' tall. Could I have made it to the starting position on the team? Perhaps. However, it would have been at the cost of every other positive thing in my life. No free time. No cutting corners anywhere. No freedom. No choice. Everything would be dedicated solely and completely to that single solitary goal. With so much of my time in high school being devoted to water polo, I threw in the towel. I was done. Not because it was impossible, but because it was improbable.

Today, I ran across an article from The Simple Dollar where it is discussed that ignorance is not such a bad thing. If you're intellegent, you can overcome ignorance. I think that is the bulk of my side of the discussion. I truly believe that you are what you make of yourself. If you decide that you "can't" ... you can't. If you decide that you can, make a plan for yourself and improvise to the finish line... you can.


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