Tapping into Our Stores of Potential

So, for the past few months, I have been absolutely obsessed with the Poldark series which is about this non-conformist who returns to Cornwall from the Revolutionary War and discovers his father has died, the family mine is kaput, and his great love is now engaged to his feckless cousin Francis. First published in 1945, there are twelve Poldark novels in this multi-generational saga and I am happily closing in on number nine. If you’re intrigued by late eighteenth century British history and enjoy reading about star crossed lovers, you might want to check it out.

At one point, Ross Poldark purchases an engine to pump out excess water from the mine as part of his attempt to tap into richer veins of ore. As he examines the engine’s potential, he observes that, “the engine was capable of a good deal more than was at present demanded.”

Where in your life might this sentence have similar applicability? What sources of strength or talent are you underutilizing?

None of us likes to think that we’re underperforming; in fact, much of the time, many of us feel pushed to the max, struggling simply to bear up under the various burdens and demands placed on our shoulders. But as true as this may be, what is also true is that we each have rich veins of ability that are lying fallow. Why is that? Why is it that when we know we are good at something, when we know we can do more or do better we allow such aptitudes to languish? These can easily be talents that matter to nobody but ourselves. As I was thinking about my writing, I thought how nobody else in the entire world would care if I wrote a single word—but it matters to me. It makes my life more fulfilling. That’s what I’m wanting for you, too.

For instance, if we are skilled in the kitchen, why would we be content merely to prepare a mediocre dinner? If we have an affinity for numbers would we be sloppy with our checkbook? I’m not talking about perfectionism here—there will be many days when we’re exhausted and only have a few moments to throw a meal together or summon the energy to take the kids to a movie but not to something more interactive. Rather, what I am examining is the mental or emotional process which occurs when we, as individuals, privately acknowledge our special gifts and still walk away from them.

Who or what situation in your life do you think of as an engine “capable of a good deal more than was at present demanded”?

Maybe because it’s autumn and the leaves are beginning to change and the nights to cool or maybe it’s because I am watching more of my parents’ generation get progressively more fragile and die, but particularly as a re-booter, I am ever more aware of the fleeting passage of time. It saddens me greatly to watch people walk away from their talents or content themselves with operating at half speed when they could achieve so much more. And by this, I don’t mean “achieve” in a showy publicity sense, but rather in an effort to test themselves and make new discoveries that would bring them joy.

A year ago, I attended my college reunion where I saw someone who I hold in great awe and esteem. All these years later, this person of prodigious capabilities appeared to have chosen to live his life, at best, in neutral. I couldn’t believe it. He was (and is) so talented. It pained me greatly to see him languish and be unhappily indifferent to participating in the world around him. Of course, I could be 100% wrong in my assessment, but what I do know is that the spark was gone.

In fact, I have known more than one or two individuals very well who have followed similar courses. One could surmise they were depressed or struck by some loss from which they never recovered or what have you, but the end result was the same each time. They ignored their talents and faded away.

Does this strike you as much of a tragedy as it does to me? It makes my heart weep.

But, back to Poldark. Our hero believed, despite multiple setbacks, that there were additional rich veins buried within the bowels of the mine—he just needed to find a way to utilize the tools he had available in a better way. Hence, his thoughts about the engine. He wasn’t crazy and he wasn’t obsessed, he just knew there was more there and was willing to dig a little deeper to get to it.

How might you dig a little deeper yourself? What additional, small effort might you make to tap further into your own God given gifts? What might you uncover?

Poldark

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