Potential is an attribute of every human being and of everything in creation. Our potential is what we are capable of becoming.

A friend recently shared with me that there was a time in her life when she wasn’t very smart and she certainly wasn’t athletic. She now holds several degrees including a doctorate in Leadership, Policy, and Administration and has run three marathons. What we can learn from her story is that our potential isn’t determined by what’s in our head, but what’s in our heart. It is determined by who we are at the core of our being.

Unfortunately, our potential can be blocked by what’s in our head. We can have thoughts and beliefs that result in choices we make that prevent our potential from becoming a reality.

Written by Trina Paulus, Hope for the Flowers is an inspiring allegory about Yellow and Stripe, two caterpillars who come to realize their potential. After they become friends, Stripe crawls off to seek other interests. The story continues with Yellow having the following experience.

One day a grey-haired caterpillar hanging upside down on a branch surprised Yellow. He seemed caught in some hairy stuff.

“You seem in trouble. Can I help?”

“No, my dear, I have to do this to become a butterfly.”

“Tell me Sir, what is a butterfly?”

“It’s what you are meant to become. It flies with beautiful wings and joins the earth to heaven. It drinks only nectar from the flowers and carries the seeds of love from one flower to another. Without butterflies the world would soon have few flowers.”

“It can’t be true! How can I believe there’s a butterfly inside you or me when all I see is a fuzzy worm? How does one become a butterfly?”

“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

“You mean to die?”

“Yes and no. What looks like you will die, but what’s really you will still live. Life is changed not taken away. Isn’t that different from those who die without ever becoming butterflies?”

“And if I decide to become a butterfly, what do I do?” 

“Watch me. I’m making a cocoon. It looks like I’m hiding, I know, but a cocoon is no escape. It’s an in-between house where the change takes place. It’s a big step since you can never return to caterpillar life. During the change, it will seem to you or to anyone who might peek that nothing is happening, but the butterfly is already becoming. It just takes time! And there’s something else! Once you are a butterfly, you can really love… the kind of love that makes a new life. It’s better than all the hugging caterpillars can do.”

Encouraged by the older grey-haired caterpillar, Yellow begins to spin her own cocoon. When her potential transforms her in a butterfly, she flies off to find Stripe and encourages him to become a butterfly.

Like Yellow, our potential is in us, but we often don’t know it. We need someone older and wiser or challenges in our life to reveal who and what we are capable of becoming.

Let’s reflect:

  1. Who has been your gray-haired caterpillar?
  2. What challenge or struggle have you experienced that resulted in developing your potential?
  3. What challenge or struggle are you currently experiencing that could develop your potential?
  4. Yellow helped Stripe discover his potential. Who needs you to be Yellow for them?

Life is an adventure, a word which in Latin means ‘becoming’. Our purpose during this life adventure is to become all that our potential has in store for us. So, let’s not waste any time and start spinning our cocoon so we can run a marathon or fly.

From a few of my butterfly friends…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…who have shown me how to spin a cocoon.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training