Of discovering potential and maximizing them

Of discovering potential and maximizing them

When I reflect about the things it took for me to be where I am now, I cannot help but pay attention to how lucky I am to have been supported and mentored in my personal, school, and professional life. I find it impossible to “repay the favor” (what can I offer to mentors who are wiser than me?), so the only way it makes sense for me is to express my gratitude by paying it forward.

It’s not easy to discover our own potential – we often need guidance from others who went before us. And if I should serve as a guide to others, I would admit that it is also not easy. It is a mix of logic and intuition, especially when what we’re advocating is authenticity.

Lately I have been reflecting on the tension between “meeting standards” and “being authentic”. This is triggered by my students’ essays, and this seems to be a theme worth thinking about. I find that students, in this “cheesy” but necessary quest of “finding one’s self”, would lean into standards and ideals echoed by the school, society, and the world. The initial phase seems to be to anchor self-worth on the validation of others, because the younger ones likely haven’t found the credibility and built the track record to soberly yet fully trust one’s strengths and weaknesses.

And it is during this formative phase when the presence of mentors and guides are most important – providing accompaniment, sober advice, and a balance of optimism and caution, but all anchored on a faith towards flourishing.

It is another end of the academic year full of transitions, embracing the post-pandemic era yet cognizant of the disruptions an AI world may bring. Hopefully, the smallest of seeds can indeed fully grow into the largest of trees.

Matthew 13:31-35. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.


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