When I first began working as an undergraduate researcher, I found myself lost within the topic I was studying. Prior to the summer, I did not have any exposure to the area, which meant I had to climb the steep learning curve that blocked me from being able to contribute.
When we think about the future, I suspect many of us are limited by our previous experiences. In other words, we don’t consider the possibilities available to us because we can’t imagine them. Roughly speaking, this is what I would call “potential”. It’s the ability to achieve something that you haven’t already. It’s what people refer to when they see someone with a lot of talent that hasn’t been focused in one direction. We can see that the person could become a master at what they do, but they aren’t quite there yet.