Monday, November 12, 2012

Pressure to Do All You Can

Whenever people talk about succeeding or fulfilling your potential, it always involves holding the most that you can.  But what if you don't want to do all you can?  What if you're happy filling only a small portion of your total capacity?

Here's a fictional story I liked to tell my college classmates: I once bought a bookshelf that could hold 100 pounds.  When the shelf was almost half full, it began creaking and swaying, like it couldn't hold any more. I double-checked the box label to make sure it said 100 pounds.  I weighed all of the books to make sure that I was nowhere near the maximum.  So I continued to pile the books, and the shelf kept creaking, until one day, the shelf collapsed. I think that the bookshelf was trying to tell me something - just because it could hold 100 pounds didn't mean that it wanted to.  Maybe it was happy with only half of its space filled. I like to imagine that all that creaking and swaying wasn't a struggle, but warning sign for me to stop.  The shelf didn't collapse because I added more than capacity, it self-destructed because it wasn't happy doing more.

So instead of looking at potential and box labels, we should listen.  Listen to what makes people happy and remember that what someone can hold is not necessarily what they want to hold.

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