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The Death of Potential

While reading my latest book on politics and economics, I came across a reference to a bible story called "Parable of the Talents'.  In this story three servants are each give 'talents' (a monetary denomination used by the Greeks).  To the first, the master gave 5 talents, to the second he gave 2 and to the third he gave 1 talent.   The master gave each a different amount of money (talents), according to their ability.  


Two of the servants doubled their money and the master was pleased with their results.  The third servant, fearful of losing it, buried his money where no one benefited from it, including himself.  


When the master summoned the third servant to get an accounting of what he had done with his talent, he was angry and displeased to find out the servant had simply buried it and where the money had no opportunity to earn interest.


The servant tried to explain to the master that he knew how 'exacting' the master was and he did not want to lose His money.  The master didn't buy it.  He ordered that the one talent be given to the first servant who was able to convert 5 talents into 10.  (Reference Matt 25:14 and Luke 19:12).


Although I believe the story or parable was strictly about economics and frugality, it can be extended to include, not only money, but true talents (i.e., ability).


The cornerstone of my book, The Logic of Success, is the premise that unless you find out what it is you were meant to do, true happiness will elude you.  Finding out what it is you truly want takes time, patience and perseverance.  In the first chapter I discuss how to create 'search patterns' to find your true calling. (Get a Free copy at


Now, I want go beyond the obvious of telling you about your hidden talents (you already know you have one, two or more).  I want to address the 'How' talents were (and are) buried within us.


As children, we all loved to discover new things.  We even did things when others advised us not to (e.g., touching the stove when Mom said it was hot).  We wanted to learn, we wanted to discover for ourselves the world around us.  Failure and pain were not yet transformed into anxieties.


As we got older, we were expected to act a little more responsible and accountable for our actions.  Like in any soap opera drama, this is the scene in your life where 'society' steps in and starts benevolently imposing its norms on your behavior.  You are now expected to:

a)     conform

b)     be more realistic

c)     put away childish things, and the most brutal of all norms,

d)     STOP thinking about yourself first.

So, what do we do?  Exactly!  We abide by each one. 


We start to conform by dressing like everyone else, and doing all the things "normal" people are expected to do.  We even adopt their mannerisms, language and way of thinking.


We then stop dreaming and imagining ourselves doing wonderful things because we're told we should be more realistic. So what happens?  We no longer create alternative visions of how our life could be and settle (i.e., compromise) for what's given; the mundane, the routine.


We then put away our childish ways because we need to be more mature and responsible.  No more having fun like balloon fights, dancing when no one's around, throwing food in the air to catch with our mouth, seeing how many times you can burp on one sip of Coca-Cola, or who can do the longest fart (sorry, I went too far).  You get the idea.


Then the final act is committed.  And as we grow older we commit a form of individual suicide of the mind.  This is when we begin thinking of others, and forgetting ours.  We begin sacrificing our desires for what others (e.g., society) needs before our own.  And every time we have the audacity to think of ourselves, we immediately castigate ourselves by reminding our inner world that we can't be selfish.


The long term result?  You get a job, you stay at and as you get older you wake up one day to the reality most people experience at one time or another, "Hey, I'm not happy with my life."   You've done everything society has told you to do, but, you're still not happy.  You have a great family, you have a decent job, the kids are doing well, and you're participating in all kinds of community events and fundraisers and so on.   


Here's something scarier.  You're unhappy but you don't know why or what it is you want to do with your life!  You don't seem to have a 'real' talent and life doesn't seem to have meaning or purpose.  Sound familiar?


Most people (i.e., society?again) label this a mid-life crisis.  Not me!  I'd like to label it: The Awakening.  The quintessential moment in your life is when you wake up, rub the conformist eye gunk away and realize that your life is running out of time. 


And here's why you can't find your talent.  Over the years with every compromise and acquiescence of self, you were slowly burying your talents deeper and deeper.   You now have the problem of having to unearth your talents after so many years of heaping selfless dirt on those childhood dreams. 


Start now by giving yourself some time, a few moments in a day to remember, to think back on those things that gave you great joy and pleasure.  Think about what you'd like to do and would make you happy.  Break the bonds of conformity and to hell with being realistic for the moment.  What is it that you'd like to do?


Now don't get me wrong here.  I'm not advocating a nihilistic view of life where you revolt and jeopardize all you've built.  Far from it.  What I am advocating is that you remove the subjective barriers, limitations and begin to think about your possibilities, your wishes and desires.  Then, formulate a blueprint which you can implement over time to help you excavate that ONE talent that lays buried within you. 


If you were the servant in the parable and the master were to appear before you, would you be like the third servant who did nothing with the talent given?   The greatest human tragedy is the death of potential, your gift, your talent, without you ever being aware of it.


Find you talent, and start digging today.  Here's a tip: start with fond memories and recall those times when you really enjoyed yourself doing an activity.  That's where X marks the spot.


Ready?  Get set!  Start digging!


Please forward this article; share it with a friend who may need a few words of inspiration.



Copyright © 2004 by Victor Gonzalez   All rights reserved.  This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author's name, website and email address are included as part of the article's body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Gonzalez,

Victor Gonzalez, top Hispanic motivational speaker and author of "The LOGIC of Success".  For more info go to: or by email

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