Always Being Told That You Have Potential

2013 April 4

Yesterday I had lunch with an old friend -- Bob Sabiston -- the computer graphics animator that helped Richard Linklater make his groundbreaking film Waking Life. We talked about how blown away we were at all the computer-based work that the new generation keeps cranking out. And we were both shocked by all the artist-coders and designer-programmers that are out there now -- having come from a time when a "unicorn" was just a myth, and when Bob and I were emergent anomalies along with other folks we knew at MIT like Michael Johnson at Pixar, John Underkoffler at Oblong, and a few other *very*-confused folks around the world. I should note that watching Bob do what he did as a student at MIT in the 80s -- combining traditional two-dimensional hand-drawn animation with 3d graphics programming -- was what motivated and inspired me to crossover from technology into the creative world.

So while talking tech, creativity, and so forth, it was a completely unexpected turn when we started talking about the question of, "How did we become the old guys?" The background music from a few movies I had seen before ... started to play in my mind as we talked. In the end we concluded that we have to keep on learning new things, and learn what we can from the next generation.

This morning I woke up and remembered a story that helped me get out of my "old man" thing from yesterday. It was told by a wise young man that another friend had met at a conference a few years back. It went like this,

When you're young and up-and-coming, everyone tells you ... "You  ... have such potential. Such great potential!"

When you're older, everyone tells you ... "You did such great things. You ... really made an impact!"

The trick I've figured out, having had the chance to meet and talk with incredible people from all generations, is ... to always be told ... no matter how old you are ... that, "you have potential."

The key to life is always being told that you have potential.

So to the reader of this little post, I want you to know that ... you have potential. Have a maximizing-your-potential day! -JM