As a kid, I too was told I was never living up to my potential. If I didn't like a test, I would mock it. I remember labeling a sex ed diagram of a woman's body with the Rideau Canal instead of Birth Canal and the labia as peach slices. I hated my teachers. I used to pretend to smoke my ball point pens and did not hesitate to make fun of them. I came close to failing a few years, but they had to pass me through the system due to high math grades and high marks on aptitude tests.
One teacher said to me "Si tu continue comme ca, tu vas te noyer!" Which, translated from the French, literally means If you keep that attitude, you will drown. I am pretty sure it is a colloquial expression for you will fail. At the time it didn't faze me at all.
Years later, I dropped out of college, couldn't pay rent, couldn't hold down a job and spent a lot of time in my small room feeling sorry for myself. I thought This is it. I am drowning. I cleaned up my act and found a new respect for authority. I went back to school and focussed on the proscribed curriculum, not even thinking of slipping joke answers on any of my tests.
Was I living up to my potential? No. I was suffocating. I became strong with technical details, but almost everything else suffered. Instead of relying on myself, I would wonder what would the professor do in each case. Those were bleak days.
So, I would say living up to your potential does not have to do with listening and trusting authority. The *Fuck You* instinct can be a good one. Living up to your potential is about working hard and building yourself up towards something great. It is about recognizing when you can use authority as a tool for what you want to do and when they are nothing but a barrier.