Thursday, December 09, 2004

Living up to our potential

Ben Saunders, a revolutionary explorer of the arctic poles, inspiringly points out that most of us humans are only scratching the surface of our potential, delivering maybe only 3-4% of what we are truly capable of achieving. The topic has also surfaced recently in the extropian email list as an offshoot of life extension / artificial enhancements discussions.

This may be sad and true, but how can we climb out of our comfort zones and achieve more of our potential? And why should we? The counterpoint is that humans have worked hard to get where we are now, with many in the developed world now working with their fingers & brains and not with the labor of their bodies. We are vegging out, but we have earned it. But we aren't fulfilled, as Mihalyi C. nicely codifies, unless we are engaged in some degree of challenging projects that we think are worthwhile. However, we could be engaging in such projects still without tapping larger parts of our true potential.

One group of individuals that really strikes out and is inspired to achieve more of their potential is those who have undergone some sort of extreme hardship, including but not limited to physical harm. Lincoln, for example, was apparently an unremarkable man until the death of his sweetheart drove him to make a real difference in the world. So how can we stimulate this drive in ourselves without having experienced extreme adversity, feeling a heavy calling to accomplish a specific goal, or other?

And what is it to live at greater capacity realization? Do more? See more? Live out of the box more? Create new ideas and drive them to implementation? A good starting place is to have a question quietly directing our thoughts and activities: "What can I do today/right now to realize more of my capacity?" To get ourselves to step up and be more in every situation we find ourselves in and to create more and more new situations in which to sketch, explore and realize our potential.

...One final mention regarding the potential hazard of big bold feats, that what about the postpartum emptiness and incorrect but present western bias to action potentially enslaving one to one's last action. Living to capacity is more about being than doing, with doing as a form of being. Ensure there is a strong "why" behind actions.