F…orget your Potential

To those graduating this year…
F…orget your Potential.

“From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.”
This verse will look different to you in 20 years.
Your income. Your trophies. Your degrees. Your titles. Your test scores. Your grades. Your past performance. The prestige of your position.
Others may care about them.
They can help you or hurt you.
But, they must not define you.
They must not limit you.
They must not force you into a box.
They can inform you.
But they are but snapshots of a period in time.
They are not capturing every instant.
They are missing most every angle.
Over the years, there will be no shortage of people telling you ways to maximize your income.
But they cannot chart your way to fulfillment.
Only you can.
And almost no one will tell you that the well-worn, clear paths
Are starting to close.
The gold watch and 30 years is no longer standard.
You don’t just have to walk the path.
You have to map it.
You must sharpen your machete and ax.
And you must hack down the trees and burn them to keep warm.
You’ve got to move the rocks.
You’ve got to camp and rest.
You’ve got to mark the way so that others may join you.
If this freaks you out, you aren’t alone.
If this excites you, you’ve got a nice head start.
Look.
I’m 40.
I’m over schooled and underwhelmed. Essentially, a journeyman clerk.
I have student debts and a couple extra pounds.
I tried to color in the lines and be practical.
I tried to follow my interests and gambled wildly with my career.
I can say this much:
Potential is nothing until it is acted upon.
Knowledge is not enough.
Today’s skills are exactly that…today’s.
In that vein, even I have a fighting chance.
And so do you.
I am home, physically isolating from a novel Coronavirus.
It is not a party. It is not ideal.
But it is an opportunity.
A chance to take time apart.
To reflect on how to serve.
How to grow.
A chance to retool.
To develop hard and soft skills alike that give me the strength to help.
To heal.
To lead.
To invent.
To imagine.
To serve.
A chance to rebuild.
To work hard to strengthen my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial infrastructure.
To walk.
To run.
To lift.
To row.
To save.
To pray.
To cry.
And finally, a chance to see that it’s not all about me.
That it is about serving others and doing my part.
And that doesn’t require a base score on any test.
It requires a will to work and a desire to learn.
Open ears and an open heart.
It is not potential or some number or evaluation that will save us,
But rather the sustained effort and commitment of everyone.
Doing what we can and must do for others
Is thanks enough for any gifts we have received.
Take advantage of this kairos- this time apart.
Be kind to yourself and others.
And know that global change gives new opportunities to different folks.
Make that you.