You are Not What You Could Be

By | April 24, 2019

[April 24, 2019] In my Sophomore year in college, I took a Psychology course that required students to read a book titled, I’m Okay, You’re Okay.1 It helped me accept myself. But, I should have rejected the author’s advice and recognized that I was not what I could be.

If only I prioritized better, worked harder, and got my own life together, then I would have been better off than accepting a lesser self.

“I don’t tell people, ‘You’re okay the way that you are.’ That’s not the right story. The right story is, ‘You’re way less than you could be.’” – Jordan B. Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto

Years ago, there an old Army recruiting video on television. It was very effective and ran for many years. It showed a paratrooper jumping out of a C-131 transport aircraft, landing on a large field, and the announcer saying, “We do more before 9 am than most people do all day.” Then the video plays the “Be all you can be” song. You can see it on YouTube at this link; only 30 seconds.

The idea behind the commercial was to get young men to start thinking about how they could be better than what they are now. All they had to do, of course, was to join the U.S. Army. An old message since the beginning of humankind was to do those things in your life that made you better than you are today. Things like participation in sports competition, advanced education, being a part of a valued organization, etc. It took sacrifice to do so, and that’s why we say discipline matters most.

Truly, you are not what you could be. Every one of us has the potential to do more; whether it’s improving our family life, better physical fitness, helping our community, being a good and moral person, and teaching others how to be stronger, smarter, and more resilient. My grandmother, bigmama, you to say “make something of yourself.” She knew more than I could have imagined and she was right.


  1. The 1967 self-help book by Thomas A. Harris was written to help people understand their life position and how it affects their relations with others. However, its final theme is that nations will mature sufficiently to avoid future wars and disharmony. While that is a bit of a logical stretch, the book did help many down-and-out people. I, however, believe that the book is more about building confidence than the building us up to be better.
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “You are Not What You Could Be

  1. Tony B. Custer

    Thanks for another great article. I printed it off and will hand it out to some of my coworkers today.

  2. Dennis Mathes

    If you want to fail, just be stagnant. Sit in the basement of your parent’s house and vegetate. But if you want out of that, be brave, go out and meet the world. That way you can will be a better person and you will appreciate yourself more for it.

    1. Eric Coda

      Couldn’t have said it better. Be brave! Be outgoing! Be the person who is willing to stand up and be counted. Otherwise, die a slow, unimportant death. Wow, nice article today.

  3. Maureen S. Sullivan

    I just finished reading a book called “Basic Airman to General: The Secret War & Other Conflicts” by General “Pete” Piotrowski. If anyone is interested, go out and buy it. A long book but worth reading every page. At its core, this book is about not being satisfied to who you are and doing the right thing to be a better person.

  4. José Luis Rodriguez

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for years. Getting better by the day.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Same here. And I will continue to read these articles.

    2. Jonathan B.

      Yes, another fan and long time reader here.

    3. Mikka Solarno

      I’m a new reader but I also like this blog. Count me in as another fan.

  5. Kenny Foster

    Good article again, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for what you do. I enjoy every article on every single day.

  6. Andrew Dooley

    Great comments all. I’m glad that I can come to this website on leadership and get down-to-Earth, practical advice and read some outstanding comments.

  7. Yusaf from Texas

    I grew up in Texas to parents from Iran. They had a horrific time as the country fluctuated from a secular dictator to a religious dictator. Nothing much changed under either but the idea was that the people could not think nor act for themselves. I’m happy they left. I am about as “Texan” (read that as American) as anybody from where I live in Houston, Texas. Go Longhorns!

  8. JT Patterson

    In the US military, I’ve found that this idea/philosophy is the basis for all they do. Their job is to turn a civilian who is used to a peaceful life into someone who is willing to destroy enemies of the United States. This is true of all militaries. Those that fail to do so will themselves be destroyed. Just my thoughts on this pertinent subject.

  9. Lynn Pitts

    Great article. I’ve never accepted what I am. Now I will admit to having a bit of stress – frankly, lots of stress over this – but I’m now a better person for it.

    1. Jerome Smith

      I think you’ve said it for us all. Great article, yes! Does it hit right on target? Yes and that is why I also read this leadership blog by Gen. Satterfield.

  10. Ronny Fisher

    This is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. We have the ability to do things today (hard work, etc. that means sacrifice) for something in the future. Don’t try to use bees storing honey as a counterargument because the bees are just doing what they need today; just happens to benefit their future. Just like squirrels storing nuts.

  11. Greg Heyman

    I’m glad you quoted Prof Jodan Peterson. He is out and front of this wave of understanding that we should never be satisfied where we are now but should sacrifice (listen to his videos and read his books to find out how) now for the betterment of the future.

    1. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

      I’ve been watching Dr. Peterson on YouTube and have found him to bring a lot of clarity to those things I’ve struggled against for years. Thanks to him, I’m a better person today.

  12. Fred Weber

    Thanks for a well-developed and argued position that we are not “okay” with ourselves but should see ourselves for what we are: flawed and in need of being better.

  13. Army Captain

    Interesting article today about something that I always had known but never really verbalized. I guess that I just took it for granted that everyone wanted to improve themselves. That is, however, not what they teach in college any more.

  14. Georgie M.

    Loved today’s article. Makes me think a little differently and that is a good thing.

    1. AutisticTechie

      That’s why I come to this website. It makes me think differently than I normally would.

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