Potential and Perspective

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I was laying in bed this morning when I began thinking about potential. I’m not sure exactly when or where the stream of thought started, but here’s what I remember of where it went.

  • The phrase, “I see a lot of potential,” is frequently used when speaking of talents, skills, and other ways we may measure success in this world.
  • The opposite of that phrase may be, “This person will amount to nothing.”
  • People often live up to the potential, or lack of, that others see in them and then express.
  • Beyond worldly success and potential, though, is our divine potential.
  • Because we are all the spirit children of God, EVERY person has the divine potential to become even as He is.

It was an interesting stream of thought to get my day started and I decided that I needed to really focus on these thoughts as I did my scripture study this morning. When I did a search for the word potential I came across a link to the talk “The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel” by Elder Rafael E. Pino of the Seventy given during April 2015 General Conference. Elder Pino teaches that it is essential to have a gospel centered perspective when making decisions that affect eternity. Specifically, he said,

“The eternal perspective of the gospel leads us to understand the place that we occupy in God’s plan, to accept difficulties and progress through them, to make decisions, and to center our lives on our divine potential.”

93b938d03af3210929db7e2973f6423cI was reminded of other reading I have done recently on perspective. Stephen R. Covey speaks of our paradigms, or the way that our vision of reality and our values influence how we interpret the world around us. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he speaks of an experiment he participated in where a room full of people were shown different images that ultimately influenced what they saw in the now well-known Old Lady or Young Woman optical illusion. It took only 10 seconds for paradigms or perceptions to be set in such a way that one image or the other in the illusion was the one an individual would see first. In most cases this group of people could not see the alternate image at all until they really started to talk with each other in an attempt to understand another perspective.

Our perspective in any situation highly influences the reality that we experience. I’ve come to a couple of important conclusions about potential and perspective today.

  1. Our perspective influences not just what we see, but how we react to it.
  2. When measuring a person’s potential, our own or someone else’s, it is important to understand the perspective we are measuring that potential from.
  3. When viewed from a mortal perspective a person’s potential may appear limited or nonexistent.
  4. When viewed from an eternal perspective that same person has unlimited potential.
  5. We can be taught to look from either the mortal perspective or the eternal perspective.

I am a daughter of a loving Father in Heaven. I have the choice to see myself from His perspective with the unlimited potential that includes, or to measure myself against the world’s standard and the idea that there may be limits to what I can accomplish. I am a wife and mother in my own family. I have the choice to look at my husband and children from an eternal perspective or mortal perspective as well, and I have the responsibility to strengthen and encourage my family to see their own divine potential. I am a member of the human race, a wide society of individuals who all had the same start as spirit children of God. I have the choice to view them with an eternal perspective that imparts potential without bias, or to view them through a mortal perspective that defines potential based on class, ability, gender, race, or any other number of things.

I choose an eternal perspective based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I choose unlimited divine potential. Do my words and actions help others to also discover and reach for their unlimited divine potential?

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