Understand yourself to realise your potential.

Words: George Maguire


As a mover that would like to extend my abilities, I often find myself stood at crossroads, assessing where I should take my body next. During my formative years, I enjoyed extended periods of weightlifting, running and yoga, bound by their comfort, familiarity and relative predictability. The problem here is that once we know something, we know it. We know what weightlifting does to explosiveness, or the sense of embodiment after a long pose in yoga. We know the ups and downs, the ins and outs. There is less room for excitement and spontaneity and more for routine, structure and science. If we stay put, we will never learn the lessons that we might otherwise. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just how it is. 

Everything in life works like this. Once we assimilate something into our lives we begin to build an unspoken contract with it. We build up pride, connection and identity within its parameters – pushing where we can – but often finding ourselves stuck. Chairs are like this. They have the potential to rid you of the weighty cost of body awareness and effort, letting you slump down. At first this is a revelation, why bother attending to or moving our body! It’s a slippery slope.

To overcome the inertia, we must see ourselves as autonomous beings, with potential pointing in every direction, all of the time. The job of an individual; whether an artist, a marketing manager, or a dancer, is to treat their options like they would if they were interviewing for a job. Carefully poised questions can take us far. What will this physio do for my shoulder mobility? Do I like my dentist’s personality? Is this trainer willing to take my desires into account and shape them into a practice that works on multiple levels? Is this Thai massage really coming from an informed place – should it hurt or not? We should seek those that have studied and steeped in the kinds of potential that we seek – and then assess if we trust them.

The job of an adult is to cultivate and materialise potential. This carries out quite literally, in the form of cooking, gardening or child rearing which see growth and increased complexity as integral to the process. Likewise, maintaining your body, through journeys of strength, flexibility and digestion allows more doors to open later in life, be it in 5 minutes as you run out of the door or in 50 years’ time as you squat down to pick up mail.

By assessing the numerous potentials that encircle us, we can untangle their perks and see if they fit our short to long term goals. We can then firmly steer the ship, potentiating a future that makes sense and is congruent with what came before.

Interview your potential, it will speak back if you listen.

Click here to listen to our full podcast with Jeremy Brook to delve deeper into the theme of potential…

MoveJames Shawpodcast