We all have potential


All of us have weaknesses. The trick is to determine which ones are improvable, then get to work on those and forget about the rest. For example, some of us will never be as good at math as others. But the important thing is to stop kicking ourselves when we are not quick at math problems and develop the things we are good at. Jesus’ parable about the talents has as its inescapable conclusion that the distribution of gifts in this world is not our concern. Our responsibility is to take the talents with which we find ourselves and ardently parlay them to the highest possible achievement.

Take the case of Yoshihiko Yamamoto, of Nagoya City, Japan. When he was six months old his parents learned that he suffered from hydrocephalus. an abnormal accumulation of fluid on the brain. Physicians told his parents that their child was probably mentally retarded. With a hearing loss that strangled his speech and an IQ that was never tested at higher than 47, one would have thought his future very bleak.

But then he acquired a new special education teacher. Takashi Kawasaki liked his new, well-behaved pupil. Gradually the boy began to smile in class, and slowly he learned to copy the letters from the chalkboard and write his name. He spent long hours painstakingly copying cartoons from books and magazines.

One day Yamamoto drew an accurate sketch of the Nagoya Castle. The clear lines of the picture reminded his teacher of a print. He had the boy transfer his design to a wood block and encouraged him to concentrate on printmaking. Eventually, Kawasaki entered some of Yamamoto’s prints in an art contest in Nagoya City, and he won first prize. Today bankers and storekeepers buy the student’s work to adorn their walls. Yamamoto still requires a very ordered life and likes his schedule unvaried. He gets up at 7:00 every morning, makes his bed, eats breakfast at 7:40, and takes the 8:00 bus to school, where he writes in his picture diary and then works on his prints. At noon he goes to the shopping center, buys his favorite bread for lunch, and is back to school and at his prints promptly at 1:00. He leaves for home at 5:00, has supper, watches TV, and goes to bed on schedule.

Is it important that Yoshihiko Yamamoto does not have as high an IQ as most, or that he has limitations? No, the important thing is that he is doing the best he can with what he has. Rather than getting obsessed with his limitations, he has capitalized on his potential.

Alan Loy McGinnis. Confidence: How to Succeed at Being Yourself (pp. 28-29). Kindle Edition.

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