This morning I was pondering the difference between potential and opportunity and their effects on success. They are separate but related concepts frequently used together such as in a “potential opportunity.”
Potential: Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.
Opportunity: A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
BLUF (bottom line up front): Can a person take advantage of an opportunity without potential? What is the cost of possessing potential and not living up to it? Economics has defined opportunity cost, but I have never heard potential cost discussed.
Opportunity cost: The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
There are no potential opportunities, there are just opportunities. A person may or may not realize one when it presents itself and may or may not take advantage of it when it does. They may simply be lazy, unable, or after considering the cost, decide it is not worth the effort. Opportunity as discussed here is one that will have a positive impact.
Potential varies greatly among individuals. Some have more some have less. Some have athletic potential, some artistic, some intellectual, and some combinations of all three. The point is everyone possesses some degree of innate potential.
Cost of undeveloped potential = lost opportunities = loss of possibility = less success.
There is a lot of self-improvement advice in the manosphere. Upon reflection, most of it is geared toward realizing potential: be more fit, better dressed, more confident, better with women, etc. True, these do create opportunities; but you will be far better suited to identify and take advantage of the ones already available.
So I propose a new concept with the following definition:
Potential cost: The loss of possible success by not developing your full abilities.
By developing your full potential, opportunities become more evident and far more impactful. There are too many whiners complaining about lack of opportunity for those with no developed ability. Initiative will get the ball rolling. Opportunities ABOUND, the problem is you don’t recognize or can’t capitalize on them.