On the Development of Potential

Astronaut Sam Cristoforetti on the International Space Station.

What do you see when you look at this picture? An astronaut? Earth? A Star Trek nerd, perhaps?

Let me tell you what I see.

I see a young girl telling herself that she will one day go to space.

I see a woman who was inspired at an early age by a TV show.

I see a person who, when faced with numerous challenges and failures, chose to persevere because of her dream.

I see an explorer wanting to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Most importantly, I see the development of potential and the pursuit of a passion.

For these reasons, this is probably one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen. This image captures in one frame a manifestation of what I’ve firmly valued for most of my adult life—that is, the development of human potential. Though my treatment of this topic has been unsystematic, my conviction of its importance has only become stronger upon reflection. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that a full human life requires it.

I like this picture so much that I intend to include it in the introduction of my dissertation.