I’d like to start today by offering a short piece from the ideas I’ve been developing more recently. The idea is The Potential Dichotomy and is reflective of the force that changes our lives based on the ideas of consistent and unavoidable opportunity costs. I’ve actually put the idea in a book I’ve been developing! Heres the cover concept so far!

The Potential Dichotomy book cover, soon to be released!
Book Cover: The Potential Dichotomy

I have constructed themes which I have labeled the “Laws of Actualization” that formulate the underlying connections between your lives and The Potential Dichotomy as a whole! Enjoy, and I hope you find fulfillment!

Throughout the post, I use the words “potential” and “self-actualization” very carefully, because they are not the same. I use them strategically to enforce my points based on the single most important difference between them, which is this…

Self-actualization is the proper utilization of Active potential (or the avoidance of stagnant potential) to incur great change in your life. It is the realization of potential, whereas potential alone, is wasted energy.

In fact, here is the definition of potential itself.

The definition of potential, by google, as it relates to the potential dichotomy.
The definition of potential, thank you, Google!

What do I mean by wasted energy? Let’s break it down into suitable forms for explanation purposes.

“Potential is Wasted Energy” – Mr. Regular

Most people are content with having the potential to do something. After all, having potential allows them the comfort of knowing that they can do something without the discomfort of actually doing it (actualization). If someone tells me that I have potential, to me that is not a compliment, it is a challenge. And it should be for you too!

You must become willing to reach out and grab the results potential can bring. To actualize potential is the name of the game.

Potential is what you have the ability to do now, actualization is, self-definingly, the result of your activity in the direction of the potential you currently have. Mr. Regular says it like this “Potential is a value that never has to be proven…you never have to ‘cash it in’ to continue having potential”.

Therefore, many are content with having potential due to the fact that it allows them a feeling of superiority, without having to actually be superior. It gives them the ability to look up upon themselves in their own mind, while simultaneously lending themselves the self-conceived power to look down upon others.

Maybe it sounds harsh, but it is true that we all have a bias within our minds that gives us the belief that we are inherently advantaged, maybe even better than others.

Having potential itself is not a bad thing, but if it is managed in a way that births a feeling of righteousness and comparison in the mind of the person who has it, it can be a bad thing.

Do not get caught in this trap!

This trap creates people who don’t act upon their fear, yet have the justification of potential to back up any claims they make against those who might call them out.

Potential alone reinforces feelings of fear and regret through inaction. It creates people who do not “walk their talk” or are “all bark and no bite” and are usually ostracized due to perceived self-righteousness.

Potential isn’t the problem, it’s the mismanagement of it that is!

Keep in mind that people can change, anyone can. You cannot change them, but you can give them the resources to change themselves. Similarly, I cannot change you, but the tools in this post might! It requires willingness.

Remember this, being content with potential alone is the justification for not taking action and, therefore, never achieving the success that potential represents.

Choose not to be content, choose to do something amazing with the potential you have and in the direction of your own passions.

Grabbing the potential you have. Seize the day! Carpe Diem is a root philosophy of the Potential Dichotomy.
Grab the potential you’ve got, day in and day out. Don’t just let it be!

This is it. The moment the floodgates of knowledge and wisdom will open up for you for eternity, or at least as long as you are willing to entertain the idea of continuous improvement! An understanding of the Potential Dichotomy and its various relationships starts now and will alter your viewpoint about life, thoughts, and actions.

Ultimately, your potential for success is broken down and separated into one of these two categories. Think of the yin/yang symbol, with corresponding hemispheres that balance perfectly. I will continue to reference the word “hemispheres” in these two categories, as I’d like to continuously remind you that they are balanced and contain all things necessary to your fulfillment.

The Potential Dichotomy as represented by yin and yang. Opportunity costs and your actions.
The Yin/Yang relationship of potential. It is the basis of opportunity costs that describes your life based on your actions as well as the life you could have.

These categories are Active Potential and Stagnant potential. This is, as I call, the “Potential Dichotomy”.

Active Potential

Active potential is simply potential that is being actualized towards your goals. All personal accomplishments and influencers use this medium.

Active potential is the medium through which driven people actualize themselves by making conscious and consistent efforts towards success. This is the medium through which ones’ purpose takes true meaning, and can be utilized to power the engines of success in any area of life.

Active potential is the embodiment of a spirit of freedom, not through choice, but through the ability to deny choices.

No one person can do it all. No one person can be, what I like to refer to as, the optimum renaissance-man (or woman).

Even Leonardo Da Vinci had to choose to focus on his strengths, he was not great at everything, he was notoriously slow, and often didn’t finish his work! Yet he is still considered great because he focused solely on his passions.

We must consciously make the decisions each day towards what we focus on, and what we choose not to focus on, in order to put our most effective efforts in to play. This is the basis of a concept in business called opportunity costs; Opportunity costs are what we could be doing but choose not to.

We can use the Active Potential hemisphere to describe our efforts. It is imperative that our actions are in line with our value systems. By keeping your efforts consistent with your values, you are placing the correct focuses in your life on things that matter most to you. Doing so is a recipe for happiness and fulfillment, as long as you believe in what you are doing.

In taking action towards our beliefs and passions, we invariably move these passions into the Active Potential hemisphere, while simultaneously taking focus away from something else, something I call…

Stagnant Potential

Stagnant potential is exactly what it sounds like. It is the lack of focus, direction, and effort needed to actualize potential in any given area of our lives. This realm of potential is the area in which we place skills that are deprived of energy or time.

Skills placed in this area become similar to muscles that have been deprived of exercise, they become weak and minimal in their usefulness, giving only the amount of strength that you consistently rely on them for, never more, never less.

Stagnant potential can be noted using the law of POLR (path of least resistance). The law of the Path of Least Resistance is meaningful to us in that it is a universal principle of energy.

Energy, by its nature, wishes to conserve itself, to take the path that provides the least difficulty, but also provides balanced transformations.

Over time, energy naturally moves from an area of high density to an area of lower density, with the goal of balance, as long as no other force stops it.

You see! The rules of the universe want us to actualize our high potential energy, as long as we don’t stop it! We as the directors of energy have a gift, an opportunity rather, one that I call the human essence, that you have become familiar with. It is the level of sentience that only humans have been observed to have, a form of logical reasoning and perception beyond our environmental forces that aid us in determining our own path, despite the law of least resistance.

We can choose where our energy is directed, we do not need to follow the beaten path and simply arrive at the very definition of “average”.

And nobody wants to be average. Consider the following image.

Wind energy, a reflection of the human mind to direct energy where it wishes, and to actualize potential as a result.
Through our ability to direct energy, we have found a way to transfer wind energy into power for millions of households!

Nothing becomes strong without first being exercised. You must give to get. If you could grow without putting in the work, that would mean that excess energy is created without first being exercised, which violates the first law of self-actualization (found below).

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. We cannot become stronger without first expending some energy (lifting weights, for example). Exercising our energy increases the containment potential we have, and allows us, over time, to do more and increase our ability to actualize ourselves. This is how we maximize our livelihood! There is a notable relationship here. I call it The First Law of Actualization.

The First Law of Actualization:

The more “Active Potential” you practice results in an increase in the volume of your “Stagnant Potential” during rest.

Otherwise, the more you gain, the more you have the potential to lose, should it not be exercised. This becomes obvious when we consider the logistics of gaining anything.

If you have 0 apples, and I give you 5 apples, then you have gained 5 apples, and therefore have the potential to lose 5 apples. This is the premise of the First Law of Actualization Energy. 

This will become useful to us in the way it relates to our feelings of loss, and of the human nature of avoidance, which actually lends itself to the concept of momentum for our own self-fulfillment.

We, as humans, have shown an affinity for gaining things, but an even larger fear of losing things. For example, which sounds more appealing to you? Immediately being given 10 dollars, or stopping a burglar trying to steal 10 dollars from you? Likely you’d rather keep the 10 dollars you have out of the principles of loss and gain, which are related to the feelings of pain and pleasure. Consider this Wikipedia article and the following link.

Loss Aversion From Wikipedia. A definition that might be contingent on explaining momentum.
Wikipedia on Loss Aversion. The notion that potential can be lost is a function of the mind to do its best to avoid losing it! Contingent on explaining possible momentum.

Read The full article here!

We simply place more emphasis on avoiding pain than we do on gaining pleasure.

Pain and pleasure are the resultant emotional dictators. They are the filters through which we perceive that things are good or bad, happy or sad, fulfilling or unfulfilling. All of our emotions pass through this filter, with a special emphasis being placed on avoiding pain.

Note that simply trying your best to avoid pain is entirely different than actively pursuing pleasure. It is the difference between trying to minimize the bad while never maximizing the good!

Worrying too much about the bad things that could happen instigate feelings of anxiety. Focusing on the immediate “bad” leaves little time for you to be crafting the ultimate “good”! This is where immediate gratification stems from.

Ultimately, we can come to the logical conclusion that this dichotomy of potential, in which everything must exist, combined with our predisposition to loss, is the most effective way of describing our self-actualization through the following law. This law is The Second Law of Actualization.

The Second Law of Actualization:

Self-actualization stems from the avoidance of stagnant potential.

Keep in mind that self-actualization in this sense means achieving solely that which is your conscious direction, it is whatever you are focusing on, this is why it is important to note that you will not achieve fulfillment unless your conscious direction is in line with your beliefs and passions!

Your beliefs and passions are the guiding forces that will reveal the ultimate good to you (fulfillment). I mentioned this before, that the beliefs and values you possess should act as a personal compass of sorts.

Beliefs and values are your compass in life, and are necessary to effectively using the Potential Dichotomy.
Beliefs, passions, values, ideals: They should all guide your direction in life. Make them clear and you will have no issue making large decisions.

Another important note is that your immediately pleasurable circumstances do not necessarily have to lead you in the direction of happiness! That would be immediate gratification.

Due to the nature of all potential that is placed within the confounds of these two categories (Active and Stagnant), and the affinity for people to avoid loss even at the cost of potential gain (risk-management theory), we can come to the conclusion that avoiding stagnant potential in the area of your passion, is not only necessary for self-actualization to occur but more effective than the prospect of gaining active potential!

Think of it this way, what are you losing by doing what you are currently doing? What could you be doing instead? Your dreams could very well be the cost of your current actions.

Formulate such a desire to avoid the pain of your present moment and you increase the likelihood to succeed! This is a perfect medium through which to describe the effect of momentum.

Momentum

Gain something, and you will likely be more enthralled with ensuring you don’t lose it. This is a big part of momentum.

How? Have you ever just thought to yourself, “Well, I’ve come this far, might as well go on.”? If so, then you’ve practiced the mindset present in The Second Law of Actualization.

Think about this, If you have spent years developing a skill, actualizing the potential of your efforts to ensure you have become above average at that skill, you are then less likely to quit simply due to the notion that you now have more to lose! Small commitments can instill great discipline. 

“An object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” – Isaac Newton, First Law of Motion

Momentum: the ability for a spaceship to accelerate once and continue in motion forever!
A spaceship, with no external forces acting upon it, can accelerate once and continue in motion forever! Likewise, if it is stationary, it can remain stationary forever unless a force acts upon it. The difference is momentum!

This also has ties to the First Law of Actualization, the more you exercise a skill, the more you have to lose. Combine this with the second law, which states that actualization occurs as the avoidance of Stagnant Potential (the hemisphere in which skills whither and are lost), and you can logically come to the conclusion that momentum occurs as the avoidance of loss in the areas in life of which you have actualized to some higher degree. Put simply, you’ve come this far, might as well commit fully!

In this way, similar to the compounding of finances over time, actualization and success can compound exponentially due to the development of consistent momentum. With consistency, success can become a habit.

Now, I’d like to discuss the third and final Law of Actualization. This final law outlines the truth of a fixed relationship between the resources we have and our ability to alter our environments, both physical (external) environment, and mental (internal) environment. Finally, the Third law of Actualization.

The Third Law of Actualization:

Due to the limitations on our time and energy, immediately shifting these fluid resources in any new direction will result in their shifting away from another direction.

Ultimately, the fact that we have fixed potential energy, as well as fixed potential time, means that shifting the direction of these resources results in a pull from the direction in which they were being used.

Fixed amounts can only be re-distributed as cumulations to the whole amount!

For example, if I had 10 dollars (resources: time and energy) to spend on groceries (current focus) but decided to spend some on different things (shift in focus), then I invariably must pull the money away from my current focus of groceries.

At any one time, your resources are limited (you only have 10 dollars) but can be exercised in any direction you wish! You can consciously direct your time and energy to complete any task, achieve any goal, or pursue any dream you have the ability to imagine.

Take the time out of your day to divide your efforts into two categories: Active Potential, the things in which you donate the most time and energy to throughout your day, and Stagnant Potential, the opportunity costs or other things you could be doing but have decided not to.

I must implore you to make sure of one thing, NEVER let your passions be the opportunity cost of your current actions. Seek them out, and bring them to a place of focus that is Active Potential.

-Austin Denison