Tuesday, April 6, 2010
When Jameson was almost three he was all about Blue’s Clues, a popular interactive children’s program on Nickelodeon. The only human character was Steve. His job was to pose questions to the pint sized TV audience. A big blue dog helped the kids solve the mystery. When Steve or Blue had puzzling questions they would go to the thinking chair for a rest and a thinking spell. Jameson determined a chair in my family room was a perfect thinking chair.
I was sitting in my thinking chair the other day reading and came across this statement: A 20 year old has hidden potential but a 50 year old has wasted his potential. I thought about it for a while ... that’s what the thinking chair is for.
I decided I didn’t agree with the author, at all. Those on track to become concert pianists or NBA stars are one thing, but most flounder around and wander for a while trying this and that before they hit their stride. The route and timing varies person to person whether twenty or fifty. I really believe it’s never too late for hidden potential to be uncovered. Ten, twenty, even thirty year high school reunions prove that.
Ray Kroc and Harland Sanders were both late starters uncovering their hidden potential. Ray was a milk shake machine salesman who wondered why the McDonald brothers ordered so many shake mixers. After much consideration he bought their restaurant and eventually developed it into one of the most recognized food chains in the world. Ray Kroc sold his first hamburger when he was in his 50s.
Harland Sanders dropped out of school in seventh grade and ran away from home. He was a steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, farmer and soldier. In his 40s he cooked meals for people who stopped by his service station in Kentucky. At age 65 he used $105 from his first Social Security check to visit potential franchisees. I wonder if as a young man anyone thought the Colonel had hidden potential. At 60 do you think anyone said he had wasted potential?
Potential isn’t just hidden in career paths. More importantly we all have the possibility of being kind, patient souls who walk with integrity and purpose. Trying, failing, backing up and going at it again is part of finding out what works and what doesn’t work with all of our relationships as well.
Life usually takes a twisted, indirect route. There are really no overnight successes. There are years and sometimes decades of hard work behind what we see. The answer to the question, “Where did this guy come from?” ... he came from years of preparation.
We all have hidden potential. It won’t be wasted, even if we spend the rest of our lives discovering it. That, however, might take some time in the thinking chair.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”