Back in high school, a friend gave me a t-shirt with a pic of Bart Simpson on it, with the word "Underachiever" proudly underneath. As painful as the label was for me, it was definitely accurate at the time.
Well, despite my later success in grad school, and whatever professional success I can claim now, I still sometimes feel like an underachiever.
Perhaps this stems from earlier labels affixed to my chest: "High IQ," "Gifted & Talented," and the best of them all, "Full of Potential." While I never want to appear ungrateful for any God-given brain talents, I must admit I've never enjoyed any of those "potential" labels.
The basic reason is simple: If you're so full of potential, you're never as accomplished as you could be. If you're so gifted and talented, then even your excellence is to be expected. There's no real achievement possible if you're expected to achieve, which means anything less than excellence is "failing to live up to your potential."
So, what the "full of potential" kids hear most often is not "congratulations!" but rather "if he would only apply himself more..." And the grades those "full of potential" kids bring home are often lower and lower the more they hear it.
More on this tomorrow...