Phenomenal Capacity.

Taylor J. Bottles
2 min readAug 7, 2022
Martin Sheen as President Bartlet in “The West Wing.”

In the West Wing episode “He shall, from time to time…” ( Season 1, Ep. 12) President Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, is on his way to deliver his very first State of the Union Address. Before doing so, however, he meets with the Secretary of Agriculture, who has been selected as Designated Successor for the evening. Bartlet lists out the first action steps the Secretary should take if he were to have to take over the office of the Presidency — selecting Joint Chiefs, Commanders, Chief of Staff etc.

After going through the particulars, President Bartlet makes his way out of the oval office, but pauses briefly to address a hesitant Secretary once more -

“You’ll do fine. People have phenomenal capacity.”

When life is piling on the impossible. When you see your cup full with no more room, when the vessel seems solid, strict, and finite. We forget, that in fact, we have room to stretch.

Phenomenal —very remarkable; extraordinary.”

Capacity “the maximum amount that something can contain.”

The maximum you and I can contain, or produce, is remarkable.

There have been so many times in my life I wish I could have heard this — ready in the back of my mind to repeat to myself.

When I moved out of my hometown for the first time.

When I’ve felt financially, and physically insufficient.

When I went through my separation and divorce.

…people have phenomenal capacity.

I have phenomenal capacity.

You have phenomenal capacity.

It is easy to only see our perceived limits. The limits we have been taught or were impressed upon us. These limits are deceptive. They are smoke and mirrors, keeping us from seeing our true potential. To see how we have the phenomenal capacity to learn new methods, seek wisdom, create new boundaries. Develop new healthy patterns. Be kind to ourselves beyond what we, or others may tell us we deserve.

When called upon to endure a new life we were not expecting — you have the phenomenal capacity to learn it.

When your relationship is falling apart, and a future without them seems impossible — you have the phenomenal capacity to move forward.

When you are in debt up to your nose.

You feel you have no motivation to run that extra mile.

You lose your baby.

You lose your job.

You get diagnosed.

You feel alone and without options…

Sit back.

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath and whisper to yourself—

“I have phenomenal capacity.”