by David N Johnson

December 3, 2019

We’re all a work in progress, ” the old man says as he lowers himself into the chair across from the journalist. They are sitting in the employee lounge area of A New Life Grocers.

The space is ample and looks more like a customer-facing area than an area meant for employees. Big plush chairs are facing each other with wooden coffee tables in between. Booths line the walls with an open kitchen off to one side, fully stocked shelves and refrigerators sit behind a buffet table as chefs prepare breakfast for all employees.

Each of us is brimming with potential, sometimes hidden behind a wall of self-doubt or beat out of us by the constant droning of others.”

The space around them is bustling with employees as they eat and laugh, tell stories, and talk about their day. One can’t help but get the sense that they would rather be there than anyplace else.

It’s easy to compare yourself to the life of another. It’s easy to feel less than because somebody else has more. More money, more success, more happiness. But the fact of the matter is that we’re all in a state of becoming. Unless, of course, you’ve CHOSEN to stall…”

I’m sorry to interrupt, ” says the journalist. “But, what do you mean by chosen to stall? Some things are out of our control.

Smiling, the old man says, “you’re right, we can’t control everything around us, but we can control how we react to those things. We’re the architects of our destinies, after all.” He holds his hand up to stave off another interruption. “One moment, I’ll try to do a better job of explaining the principle.”


We’re born with a never-ending well of potential. It’s both deep and wide. How much we take from the well will dictate how far we go in life. That’s what I meant when I said that each of us is a work in progress. We’re the sum of who we are at any given moment, plus the entirety of the well within us. The more we dip into the well and use our potential, the greater we become.

That’s principle number four: never limit your life by what you think you can’t do, with enough time and dedication you can accomplish just about anything. The only limits on your life are the ones you put there yourself.

Never limit your life by what you think you can't do, with enough time and dedication you can accomplish just about anything. The only limits on your life are the ones you put there yourself.Click To Tweet

I’m not the man I was 40 years ago. After contemplating suicide, finding the true meaning of happiness and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and what I needed to do to stay in sync with my ambition, I learned that I lacked just about everything needed to go about accomplishing my dreams. Even after everything that I went through and after everything that I learned, I had to face the fact that I just wasn’t good enough. I lacked the skills necessary to realize my dream.

Just when I was about to give up, I started writing another business plan. Not unlike the one I wrote at the soup kitchen, but it differed in a fundamental way. Instead of focusing on an actual business, it’s focus was on me. I starting writing down what I lacked, both emotionally and skill-wise, to achieve my dreams. I then put in action steps and dates of completion.

Once I completed the business plan of self, I start noticing that it gave me hope. It gave me something to work towards. That’s when I realized that life is in a constant state of flux and that to accomplish anything in life, all I had to do was draw from my well of potential.

Too many times we judge ourselves not to be good enough based on the moment; we give up too quickly. We tell ourselves that we can’t have something because we’re not good enough. We look at others who have what we want, and we compare ourselves to them. This demotivates us because we focus on what we don’t have instead of looking at what can be achieved!

Become inspired by the success of others, that they are living their potential and that you can too. Don’t compare your current self with theirs; they are just further along in their journey than you are.

And therein lies the power of this principle, you are potential. You can become. What you lack today doesn’t have to be what you lack tomorrow. Many of us quit before we realize what we’re capable of because we feel that we’re not up to the task. You are, tap into your well, you are capable of so much more than you can imagine.

Which brings me to my fifth and final principle: Don’t stagnate. Learn as much as you can, analyze your experiences, and use your knowledge to help yourself and others find their greatness.

Don't stagnate. Learn as much as you can, analyze your experiences, and use your knowledge to help yourself and others find their greatness.Click To Tweet


The old man paused, took a look around him, and said, “those five principles are how I live my life. If I’m ever up against a decision, I ask myself how the outcome stacks up against how I’ve chosen to live my life.”

Putting his pen down, the journalist said, “it certainly looks like it’s working. Every year for the past 30 years, you’ve given over 85% of your income away. There are people alive and thriving because of what you’ve been able to accomplish.”

It wasn’t me; it was us, ” he replies, waving his hand around the room.”I was nothing more than the idea guy; others have taken those ideas, lived them, and helped others do the same. My idea of taking the lowest among us, lifting them, and then using them to help others do the same didn’t even start with me; it’s biblical. If you follow the life of Jesus, it’s precisely what He did. I just reminded people of what needed to be done.”


From David N Johnson: in an attempt to keep this brief, I left out a lot of what the old man and the journalist spoke about. If you ever have any questions, reach out, and I’ll see about asking the old man what he thinks ;). Until then, live your life to the fullest.

About the author 

David N Johnson

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