On Hidden Potential

On Hidden Potential

“Lost in the thoughts?” Lulu, my parrot, nudged me. “What are you thinking about?”

“I am reading Adam Grant’s latest book, ‘Hidden Potential’. He writes, ‘Personality is your pre-disposition – your basic instincts for how to think, feel and act. Character is your capacity to prioritize your values over your instincts.’”

“That’s really insightful”

Adam Grant writes further ‘If personality is how you respond on your typical day, character is how you show up on a hard day.”

“Well explained,” Lulu moved closer and said, “You once explained the difference between values and virtues in a similar way. Values are like personality and Virtues are like the character. Everyone notices the character.”

“You have a great memory, Lulu”

“What’s the book about?”

“It’s about ‘Hidden Potential’. Interestingly he says, ‘Potential is not a matter of where you start, but how far you travel.’”

“But some with high potential can be easily spotted, right?”

“Adam Grant challenges that notion. Some people have the talent, they are quick learners, but they may not go too far.”

“I remember Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar. Both were great players. Kambli has the distinction of hitting two double centuries in Test cricket. He is also the only cricketer to hit three consecutive test centuries in three innings, all centuries against different countries.”

“He had the necessary wherewithal but he did not come anywhere close to Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements. Kambli was lost in the distractions which come packaged with success, but Sachin remained focused on his game of cricket. Very apt example!”

“I now understand what you meant by ‘Potential is not a matter of where you start, but how far you travel.’ We colloquially say someone had great potential but it never translated in its full action. Or we say he wasted it.”

“Right you are. This is where the character comes in.”

“Does Adam Grant talk about character?”

(Lulu, my parrot)

“Yes, Lulu. Did I not quote him? ‘Personality is your pre-disposition – your basic instincts for how to think, feel and act. Character is your capacity to prioritize your values over your instincts’. And values are the ‘Principles that guide our thinking and action.’”

“Got you. Sachin remained focused on improving his game. He placed a high value on it. Kambli fell prey to many temptations. He could not handle the sudden fame. Sachin travelled long because he knew what to value; he showed character.”

“And the word ‘character’ is used in this book to denote a combination of proactivity, determination, and discipline.”

“Everyone knows how Sachin has shown all the three qualities, there is ample evidence. His taking charge of the game, determination to win it and play a fair game, and extraordinary rigour of discipline was evident in every match.”

“One may have the talent; he or she may be a quick learner, and may show all signs of having great potential but it is the character which brings it out in full measure. When that happens, we see a person travelling a great length in his career. That is the potential on display.”

“And the long hours spent learning with determination and discipline bring it out well.”

“Well, that is how many musicians learnt their art.”

“And there is a belief that in order to master anything one must spend ten thousand hours learning it”

“Oh yes. Malcome Gladwell repeatedly refers to the “10,000-hour rule,” in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’. He writes that the key to achieving true expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing, in the correct way, for at least 10000 hours.”

“Essentially, you must follow what your mother always mentioned. Be disciplined, and practice makes a perfect man!”

“I now realize how right she was!”

“And that’s not too late for you. Now that you have retired you can easily put in ten thousand hours sketching and clicking photographs.” Lulu chuckled and continued, “Your proactive approach, determination and discipline might still put your potential on full display, right?”

“Oh, shut up Lulu!”

Lulu gave me a mischievous look, fluttered his wings, and settled on my shoulder.

Pic courtesy: Parrot pic: Greg Hill on Unsplash, Feature pic: Frans Vledder on Unsplash

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / All work copyrighted.