Potential – Defined

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When I was in the military, what seems like a lifetime ago, I was honored to serve with men and women from all parts of the world, and from all walks of life. Some came from farms, and some from the big cities; from poor families and rich; from the North Eastern US to the South West, and Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. Tall, short, red, yellow, black and white. I truly believe that if the United States of America is the melting pot of the world, then United States military is the melting pot of the country! To quote Dickens, though, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” but I’ll be careful not to digress too far from my topic! (If you’ve served the worlds greatest military, you understand)…

It was during this time, in late 1988, that I met a man named Thomas M. Byczek, a Major, military attorney, and stocky little fellow with what seemed like freakishly thick glasses to me at the time (and now I wear likewise), that commanded more than the legal department at 8th Army in Korea at the time… he also commanded a great deal of my respect. I’m 6’3″ tall, and was at the time in my late teens, and single (read “wild”). “Major B,” as I will affectionately refer to him here, was much shorter, and married, but his wife did not accompany him on this particular tour of duty. Major B was a hard worker, but not just in the office… it seemed to me that whenever he was not in the office, he was in the gym. Remember, I said he was “stocky,” not fat… He was much shorter than me, but he was all muscle and could have bent me around like a pretzel with one hand, and in the other he’d still be bench-pressing about 200 pounds! There were a lot of people that I knew at the time who were married, yet alone overseas, and their off-duty activities were much less admirable, considering their marital status! But Major B kept his mind, and body, clear from these things, and from temptation…

I was invited to join Major B one morning at the gym, and I took him up on it. As I recall, and maybe I have the timing off on this a bit, but it’s my story so just ride along, it was this morning, at the gym, that Major B asked me what would become a life-altering question, and one that I’ve asked of others many times myself, since. He said “Capwell, do you know what ‘potential’ means?” Now, I’m no dummy, and was quite proud of my command of the English language (I was a Legal Specialist, after all, so OF COURSE I know what “potential” means!). I took the liberty to enlighten Major B with my intellect and dazzled him with my textbook definition. Remember, again, that I was 19, at best, so in my own mind I didn’t see how brilliant I truly wasn’t! Major B, without missing a beat, replied something to the effect of “Well, Capwell, that’s real nice. But that’s not what potential means. Potential means “You haven’t done anything, YET.”

I’ll let that sink in for a minute….

It was George Bernard Shaw that once said “Youth is wasted on the young.” I love that! And it was at this point that Major B paid me perhaps one of the greatest compliments that I’ve received to date. He told me that I had a lot of potential, but like the definition, I hadn’t done anything, yet. I COULD do a lot with my life, but without reaching for a dream, without vision and determination, a dream is not attainable unless it’s backed up by action, and perseverance. Youth truly IS wasted on the young, because it was years later before I really understood the wisdom behind Major B’s words that morning. The good thing is, it’s never too late to realize your potential!

So, what does this have to do with fitness? It has EVERYTHING to do with fitness! Look at the great athletes in history, and you’ll not see potential, you’ll see potential that has been REALIZED. You’ll see men, women and even children that have not just hoped that they could be the strongest, or fastest, or best at a particular sport, but they combined the God-breathed potential with the actions and lifestyle that helped them realize their potential to the fullest! Michael Jordan was told in High School that he was too short to play the game, but that didn’t deter him! He didn’t just sit around watching basketball, sulking about his height, hoping to be the best of all time, he worked at it, and gave his all from a very young age. He went on to (arguably) be the best of all times! And this story is repeated over and over again in the lives of so many athletes and fitness professionals.

Do you have “potential?” You bet! I’ve traveled the world, both in the military, the private sector as a tourist, and most recently as a missionary. I’ve yet to meet ANYONE who lacks potential! The difference is not the supply of potential, it’s the response that their potential demands of them to put in the personal sacrifice to realize their potential to the fullest. Too many times I hear of people’s dreams, but see that they do nothing about it! They still have potential… they just haven’t done anything about it, yet. The reality of their lack of success, however, does NOT mean they won’t be successful – it just means they have to DO something about it! Do more about it. They have to P.U.S.H – Persevere Until Something Happens (although I learned this as “PRAY Until Something Happens,” but even Jesus taught that praying is the baseline, but the faith HAS to be put into ACTION!)

I haven’t met anyone, yet, that couldn’t lose weight and get in shape. No-one! Is it hard at first to make the changes that need to be made – yes. But is it worth it? You bet!

So, now that you know that you DO have potential to change your physical appearance and live a healthy lifestyle (you REALLY do), what will you do with this new-found information? Will you continue to wish and hope something will change? Will you make excuses why things haven’t changed? Or will you get off the couch, and move your body? You don’t have to jump right in to a Zumba class, or lace up the shoes and start running – in fact, that might not be the healthiest approach for you at all! But you CAN start to move your body when you would otherwise have been stagnant. You can take a walk with a loved one, pet, friend, or even alone. You can stop drinking sugary drinks and replace those with water. You can stop after one plate of food. You can even make sure that plate has lots of color (not brown) like green, orange, yellow, red – all the healthy stuff. I’m not saying to eat only salad, I’m saying that it might not be a bad idea to replace those fried foods with something a little more natural. Your body WILL thank you for it! You can even find an accountability partner to share your successes with. And the list goes on!

You are NOT a victim of your body – YOU HAVE POTENTIAL! Now go out and realize it!

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