Bob Wingate: Don’t shortchange yourself

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

“Potential” is a word that I’ve heard a lot in my life. Its definition is “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.”

Potential can be a very good thing, but it can also be destructive and harmful if left latent for long periods of time.

The word “potential” comes from the same root that the word “potent” comes. “Potent” means “having great power, authority, or influence.” If you have potential, that capacity needs to be catapulted into something real.

I know a lot of people that don’t seem to have any talents or abilities whatsoever. I’ve learned though that many times, people’s skills are suppressed by people and situations in their life, to a point where they no longer believe in themselves or in what they can accomplish.

They begin to stop caring, become lackadaisical about everything, and often recoil into a commonplace existence.

“Shortchange” means “to deprive of or give less than something due; cheat.” We usually think of shortchanging as a sort of “flim-flam,” when someone else tricks us into taking less than they owe us.

Actors George C. Scott (“The Flim Flam Man”) and Steve Martin (“Leap of Faith”) gave depictions of these types in their film roles. But sometimes people actually short-change themselves. They begin stop trying to achieve anything in their lives. They fall way short of their potential or destiny. They start expecting and accepting less. It appears they might be happy, but deep within, they know there is something better for themselves.

We all come to a crossroads at different times in our lives. All of our stories are unique. Our paths and timetables are each set on an individual basis.

But we all share the same inner desire to find the right course and pursue it. If we allow ourselves to want anything less, we are cheating ourselves.

Stop a moment along life’s highway and reevaluate your course. Are you following the path that brings you joy and fulfillment, or are you somehow stuck in a path that’s not of your choosing? Actually, you did choose it, but you did so out of compulsion or necessity, and not out of a yearning and longing. Each of us needs to eventually find that right course where we know we belong, and follow it with all of our heart.

Don’t short-change yourself. It’s bad enough when another person succeeds in robbing you of what you are due. Don’t ever let yourself do it. You owe yourself more. Check your “pockets.” Do you have all that life owes you? Or have you settled for less ? If so, take some time to think about what you need to do to pursue your life’s dreams and goals. And then take your “potential” and mold it into something powerful in your life.

Bob Wingate is a freelance writer and music promoter in Salisbury. Read more at and


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