I’m loving the hottest new overused word. Everyone seems to have it. Seems there is no limit to it. It’s ‘‘potential’’ and it’s spreading like the flu.
My friend, a leader in his field, was recently inter- viewing candidates for a position. He said he asked 100 people why they thought they would be good for the job. They all squeezed it in at some point. Here it comes . . . ‘‘I really think I have huge potential’’ or ‘‘I really think this job has huge potential for me’’. Note also the word ‘‘huge’’. People or things rarely simply have potential — they all have it in huge doses.
The other usage of the word is when editors, teachers or bosses are assessing our work. These days, every piece of art or writing ‘‘really has potential’’. In other words, it isn’t good at present, but if you completely redo it, it may possibly be good one day.
Same with job applicants. As my friend said to one of his interviewees: ‘‘If you haven’t got competence now, real time, and in bucket loads, why would I pay you? I don’t want someone with huge potential, or a huge anything. I want someone who can simply do the job that I’ve advertised!’’
I’m usually alarmed by the word when it’s used in connection with my work. I just want to know the facts. Yes, it is good in this and that way; and it could be improved here and here with a few minor — oh please
do use the word ‘‘minor’’ — tweaks. I like tweaks. It says the opposite of potential. It says we’ve arrived! Now! With a few small modifications.
The psychology of all this is interesting. We’re part of a different world now where everyone is multi-tasking, ambidextrous and poly-capable (made that one up).
And everyone is on the way to somewhere or to being someone else with regard to careers, relation- ships, personal growth, or country.
So everybody and everything is in a state of flux and transition until they or it fulfils the required potential. Even our friends and partners only have the potential to make us happy — or we, them.
All of which usually leads to boredom once the goal is accomplished and the new peripatetic generations need a new challenge.
Having conquered Everest, off they go in a state of perpetually fulfilled or unfulfilled potential, ‘‘exploring’’ their ‘‘possibilities’’.
I’m praying that this column has more than ‘‘huge potential’’. I’m also hoping it goes ‘‘viral’’, my other new pet hate word which is bandied about. It has the huge potential to go really viral. But then again, so do we all.
Brilliant! Made me smile in real, right now. I think you should research the mathematical equation for potential, I am sure it would be HUGE 🙂
I do not connect with potential. However, the last part of your article expresses the way I live.
I adore challenges and constantly seek new mountains to climb as I become bored with what I have achieved so far, this applies to everything in my lifestyle.
Very quickly I tire of new jobs, new homes, new people, and most of all security.
I prefer huge crises to face and throw all my resources into, as this excites me, and makes me tick. I thrive best of all when I travel in an unsafe country, surrounded by poverty and rebellions.
This makes my mind work overtime, whereas security sends me to sleep and dream of the next adventure.
Love the word poly-cabable:).
I share your dislike of the word potential. It means nothing and is worth the same.
Still enjoying your every post, even though I don’t comment all the time!