I can’t help noticing the incredible potential that children have. When I talk with my daughter and her friends, I find no limits to what they can achieve. Among them are talented actors, dancers and artists. They are compassionate, intelligent girls and they amaze me. Seeing potential in the young is not such an unusual experience but a strange thing happened the other day. I began to see potential for greatness in everyone. I’m not just talking about potential for financial success. I’m talking about the potential to inspire others, the potential to rise above difficulties in a miraculous way and to be the hero of our own life story.
The first person I saw this in was a homeless man living on the beach. His intelligence was still intact despite years of drug use and he spoke to me about his experiences and how he wanted to write a book. “Not many people can write about what I’ve seen,” he said soberly. I agreed and offered him all the encouragement I could.
The next person I met was an elderly woman in the grocery store who leaned on her shopping cart for support and smiled up at me from her permanently stooped posture. She seemed surprised at my offer for help, and laughingly explained, “I’m nearly ninety but I can still do everything myself.” Her enthusiasm for accomplishing small tasks had me smiling all day.
Last was the happy child from a neighborhood welfare family who wandered through my front door without knocking to ask for rice crackers. (She does this all the time and is always smiling despite her bad teeth.) She stayed to eat her crackers and talk to me about school before skipping off to find a friend to play with. As far as she is concerned, she has as much potential as anyone and I think she is right.
Seeing such potential in everyone I meet is like finding an unlimited treasure trove. And not only this, the potential seems close to the surface, unstoppable. We all have the potential to be great in our own way, to become the fully realized heroes of our own lives. Find your greatness. Embrace it. Your greatness is closer to the surface than you think.