Should We Treat People by What They Have Done or What They Are Capable of Doing?

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Judging people involves looking from different angles. Yet, for most cases in today’s competitive society, such as college applications, job interviews, music auditions or whatever situation where people need to support someone or promote something, past experience and achievements are the most important criteria. Supporters of this notion believe that experience is a more convincing predictor of success than potential. Compared to the uncertainty pertinent to one’s potential, one’s past accomplishments are more reliable evidence of one’s capabilities because they can be measured against objective standards. However, simply prioritising achievements over potential denies the fact past achievements may not be a holistic revelation of one’s true capabilities. Since people are constantly making progress, we should embrace every possibility of their future by placing trust in their potential. While what people have accomplished in the past reveals some of their abilities and hence heralds what they will be achieving in the future, it is myopic to arbitrate their later development based on their past experience. Due to stereotypes, many tend to concentrate too much on one’s past deeds and neglect one’s potential. This is sheer short-sightedness. Actors and actresses are often recognised more for their looks than their talent in areas other than the entertainment industry. Heddy Lamarr, once dubbed “the most beautiful women in the world” in the 1940s, was no exception. During the Second World War, German U-boats were wrecking havoc in the torpedoing ships. Lamarr, already a renowned actress paralleled to many Hollywood legends at that time, spent her leisure time designing a secret communication system that could guide a torpedo with a technology called “frequency hopping” to prevent interception of the signals. Her design was patented and confirmed by professional

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