Your potential is not quite a thing, yet more than an idea. It awaits in a twilight zone between idea and reality, where all things are possible but none are actual.
It took 15 billion years of evolution for you to be where you are now: a conscious being capable of self-consciousness. It is from the depths of this interior awareness that you can shape your destiny. With imagination alone, you can shape what has never been before. An act of imagination is the seeding of an idea that will bear fruit in a time that has not yet appeared.
This specific form of imagination is what you can call visionary thinking.
When your heart and mind can look into the past, into your reserve of memory, select its most choice ideas from it and project it into the future, then you have begun the journey of exploring your potential.
Will you be rich or poor, well-educated or ignorant, loved or abandoned, alive with a new intensity and purpose or merely drifting upon the tide of circumstances, depends not on the movement of the stars nor on the opinions of those who hold you dear, but on one thing alone: your inner clarity about who you are and what you want your life to mean, both to yourself and all those who will come to know you.
All men and women dream but only some have the courage of their convictions. Most through default float upon the sea of mediocrity, responding to biological and social needs but creating nothing new, ennobling, or in some measure liberating.
Many, unfortunately, are capable of going through their days without entertaining a single original idea, content with acquiescing to the propaganda of vested interests. A few, however, think about their potential and what they can do to explore and expand it. These are the ones who push the race forward, stretching the limits of consciousness further into the realm of new possibilities.
You cannot succeed in anything alone. Your success is a wave that carries others, inviting them to examine their own potentiality. You vibrate at a higher frequency when you choose excellence; you influence others with your presence alone.
The urge to be more than you are right now, to express a nobler speech, a finer mind, a more uplifting outlook, a larger reach of resources is the urge of life itself to explore its dimensions.
The idea of entelechy, a motivation for self-determination and directing inner strength for more life, growth, and capacity is an idea that arises from Aristotelian philosophy.
A human being is in a perpetual dynamic tension between potentia and actus. In other words, a quest to translate a potentiality into an actuality. Potentia is determinable. Actus is determined. These terms should not be confused with the ideas of physics which refer to the capacity for change through work from one state to another. With a human being, the urge to translate potentiality into actuality is intrinsic. With material objects, an external force is extrinsic, some outer force is making the conversion from one state to the next.
The ultimate goal of self-determination is happiness. For as a sentient creature evolves, it increases its power, secures its survival, and experiences the happiness of a broader and fuller expression of itself.
Another way of looking at it is to say that all human misery is due to some level of frustrated potential. At times, this frustration is felt so acutely as to result in self-destruction, either through suicide or self-degradation.
A human being is rooted in teleology. The human psyche hungers for design, and it will do almost anything to satisfy the quest for meaning.
The best and most satisfying lives are those where meaning is found and where a conscious and deliberate movement is made from potentiality into actuality. Ultimately, the conversion is one through the medium of intelligence, from the creative intelligence of envisioning to the practical intelligence of bringing about and maintaining a higher order of adaptation. As intelligence and adaptation increases, so, too, does happiness, which is a symptom of increasing power as the means of survival are ensured. As Spinoza once said, “Happiness is power increasing.”
Happiness, like life itself, is never a final state, but an evolving one. You can be happy now and as you increase your power in the world, converting more potential into actuality, your happiness will also correspondingly increase. The highest state of happiness, of course, is self-realization, when you transcend the limitation of the idea of a singular ego battling a hostile world intent on its destruction and embrace the idea of being unified with all sentient life everywhere. Mystics have reported this state of oceanic consciousness as blissful.
As the cosmic conspiracy unfolds, life becomes more complex, more engaging, and ultimately more fulfilling. Our task is to engage the great game of life and ride the beam of evolutionary advancement of consciousness itself.