21 May 2013

Living up to Potential

I recently had the honor of presenting an award to one of our students.  That meant, of course, that I had to think of what to say about her in front of a crowd of people–what it was about her that impressed me the most.  It was a pretty difficult task, as there are quite a few things about her that impress me–her work ethic, the effort that she gives to everything she does, how nice she is to other people, the respect that she shows to everyone.  After a lot of thought, though, I realized that all of those things together worked towards one particular thing–she is constantly doing her best to fulfill her potential in all that she does.

Reaching to fulfill our potential isn’t all that easy sometimes.  After all, it often takes hard work, and it takes making decisions that may not involve the easy ways of doing things.  We may have to decide to try to do something very difficult or very frightening if we want to live up to our potential.  After all, I’m never going to reach my potential as a runner if I never push myself hard when I’m training.  I’m never going to reach my potential as a teacher if I don’t take risks in the classroom, and if I don’t work hard to keep up on current literature and research, and if I don’t try hard to get to know my students and determine their needs.  I could just come to class every day and present the same old stuff in the same old ways, but then how will I ever come close to reaching my potential?

Perhaps we never reach our potential.  Perhaps as we improve, our potential improves, too.  But whether we reach it or not isn’t important; the important thing is whether we attempt to reach it, whether we give all that we have to try to do things better than we ever have before, whether we take the risks to learn more and become more.  I have a great role model in my life now, someone who gives everything she has to reach her potential, and I’m very grateful that I was assigned the honor of presenting her award.  After all, if I hadn’t had the chance to do so I might never have started thinking about reaching my own potential in all that I do.

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence
in one’s ability, one can build a better world.

15 May 2013

The Dragonfly and the Butterfly

My wife and I went for a walk at a nearby lake this morning, and I saw something kind of cool and very interesting while we were out there.  At one point, there was a rather large dragonfly hovering about, probably looking for food.  Whenever it got too near a particular plant, though, a fairly small butterfly would fly up and actually chase the dragonfly away.  I thought I was imagining things, but it happened three times, which is good enough for me to recognize a bit of a pattern.

What surprised me was that dragonflies eat other insects, while butterflies are virtually defenseless against other creatures--they don't even eat through a mouth, but through a proboscis.  The dragonfly is equipped by nature to do severe damage to something like a butterfly, even killing it, while the butterfly really can't do anything at all to a dragonfly.  Yet the butterfly was able to chase the dragonfly off more than once.  It didn't make sense from a logical perspective, yet it did make sense when one thinks of the ways that nature equips animals to take care of themselves.

The thing that struck me the most strongly, though, was that the dragonfly was scared away by the illusion of danger.  It got me to thinking about our natures, and just how easy it is for us to be intimidated or frightened by things that we think are dangerous or powerful, but which in reality are pretty harmless.  People get afraid of snakes just because they're snakes--even if they're only harmless garter snakes.  People are sometimes afraid of other people because of the ways they look, not realizing that they're just people, as all of us are.  We may be afraid to face a certain person because of something we said or did, only to find out the person has forgotten about it completely.  Our fear was caused by our ideas of how the person would act, not by reality.

Are there any scary butterflies in your life?  It would be a good idea to look at it more closely, to see if it actually can do you any harm at all, or if you're just intimidated by the illusion of possible harm.  Because as frightening as the butterfly may look to you, the fact is that it really is pretty harmless.