People tend to misperceive the concept of “living up to one’s potential” by thinking of it as equivalent to “the pursuit of perfection”. Others write the concept off as silly because one’s “potential” is unknowable and ultimately a baseless subject. Others think striving toward one’s potential is a competitive notion that suggests we should all try to be better than others and try to get the most we can in life, as in acquiring the most material goods possible.
But the concept of potential has a much more useful function. The useful way to perceive this concept of individual potential is in terms of self-actualizing, or in terms of consciously becoming a better person based on one’s available capacities, with the intention of optimizing individual experience and maximizing contribution to other people & society.
Living up to one’s potential is not about getting the most in return, and it’s certainly not about ego. We don’t strive to live as our best self simply to gain material goods or flatter other people, or to increase our self-esteem so that we can feel superior.
Living up to one’s potential is about meaningful engagement in life.
Moreover, individual potential is ultimately about maximizing our individual purpose: the purpose of doing our best with what we have, because we know we have something to contribute.
Living up to one’s potential is about giving to other people and society the best we practically can. It’s about utilizing the capabilities we’re born with along with those we’ve developed throughout our lives.
Individual potential is fundamentally about contribution to others and society, understanding that others & society have ultimately given so much to us.
Finally, consciously living up to our potential and consciously striving to be our best self is the ultimate manifestation of gratitude. This does not entail non-self-acceptance and constant effort. Rather, it entails a practical application of self-awareness along with utilization of our natural & developed abilities for the purpose of affecting positive change.