The potential of a group

My small town school teachers said over and over again I had lots of potential, but I needed to do my work. This made me feel like a total nothing. 

After traveling the world and meeting the best creators in the world, I see that I wasn’t limiting my potential. The teachers were. 

When I was a class clown, or creating games on my calculator to share, or learning magic tricks, I was trying to engage other kids. I loved learning. I wanted my classmates  to wake up and love it too. 

All the crazy things I do performing, creating, fathering are about leaving no potential wasted. 

Hey teachers, I didn’t have to work harder. I was doing my work, it’s just that I wasn’t doing your work. I had already started my career.

Potential is not assessable

We can’t see what the future holds. We can’t tell what’s next. We can’t correctly evaluate what’s in a person or a group of people. When we start to estimate potential, we’re pretty wrong.

Potential is myopic

Just like my teachers, when we look at potential, we’re looking at it thru a limited view. We’re determining what’s possible in a certain small goal (eg: what will get this kid into a local college?). This eliminates possibility, it undermines available resources, and it most likely has too low of a bar.

When people say “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s trying to break from the idea that we have limited potential, but it’s still based on the idea of potential. It’s a different perspective on potential – one that we don’t really believe anyhow.

Now is the alternative

Let’s let the whole idea of potential go. When we’re trying to activate a group of people, here’s what we need to do…

  1. Evaluate our current situation
  2. Agree on a goal
  3. Check our resources (even just a few of them)
  4. Make a plan
  5. Take action

In the case of my teachers, they could have…

  1. looked at my grades. asked me why i wasn’t getting better grades and why I was getting in mischief. asked me how i was spending most of my time.
  2. talked to me about what I wanted to become and what I liked about life. Come up with a goal / mission for me – even in the short term (the actual goal was not to get good grades, but to make me successful in life)
  3. Look at my strengths and assets
  4. make a plan
  5. give me next steps for that plan

This would have taken maybe 30 minutes and would have saved them from having to meet with my parents or deal with my constant disruptions. I’m sure handing out detentions wasn’t easy for them either.

Dealing with a group

When we have an hour with a group of people, we have to take care of those 5 things quickly. Mostly, we gotta get everyone on the same page and give them a simple directive. It can be as easy as this…

“We had an incredible year and one of our strengths has been enthusiasm and connecting to each other(1). If we can build on this, we can experience even more growth… what do you think(2)? We’re all here together(3) and we can celebrate who we are to refill us with fuel for more enthusiasm (4)… so I want to hear you cheer your socks off(5)! “

Written for folks who want to attract and energize groups

Scot Nery is an emcee who has helped some of the biggest companies in the world achieve entertainment success. He's on an infinite misson to figure out what draws people in and engages them with powerful moments.

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