Why I hate the word potential

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Why I hate the word potential




I was the student , who was in the top percentile of my class but failed  to live up to my full potential in the exam where it mattered .[ I suppose as I have grown making 9A’s instead of the 11A’s I was expected is devastating to a 15 yr. old not soo much at my age now , bear with me here  ]

I did not make it to my first choice of secondary school, I barely got into my second choice [I had picked 2 highly competitive schools that were not interested in recruiting students that picked them as a second choice]…

…. This when I began to distrust the word potential


In my second major exam , the exact same thing happened , on a  worse scale, a string of B’s , and gasp D’s and E’s effectively ended my chances of going to the university of my choice . So again I ended up in the next best choice at the time.


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My 19 old year self what is with this potential word I can’t seem to live up to!!!


Ok Pause, this is not an exercise in bad mental habits I picked up because of high bars that were set for me, read more …


Then I moved into and worked in corporate Britain and Ghana for a number of years. I was always the employee with a high potential but went long periods of being stuck in roles where ppl leap frogged me.

Again more dislike for the word…..

“Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics to the social sciences to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple release of energy by objects to the realization of abilities in people”


The weight of unrealized potential over time becomes a burden



“Potential” over the years, felt to me like mythical place that I could never quite reach and that is fundamentally why I now have a visceral aversion for the word

Plot twist


…But In a lot of ways I have exceeded what was expected of me, but not in a way people expected.

I recognized that I had never had the ‘potential’ of being of a high achieving employee, because I was better as an entrepreneur … that explained a lot

Nobody could have foreseen my ability to create global women in tech Africa organization, in over 30 countries, building and supporting women in tech technology industry in Africa from Morocco to Malawi.

Potential is pronounced on us within the context of the rules of who and what we should be. I rejected my potential a long time ago in pursuit of my purpose


Ps I understand for most kids it is important to have high expectation of them vs low expectation and I agree. I am not advocating for lowering of expectations  rather an alignment with purpose.