What Do You Want From Me, Perfection?

No, but what do you want from yourself? Mediocrity?  Twenty seven years ago, I had just left New York City after sixteen years of teaching and coaching and was in my first year teaching and coaching football in a high school noted for its good athletes, yet underachieving teams. It was quite apparent that no one had ever pushed these talented kids to do their “techniques” correctly. Experienced coaches (and teachers) will tell you that less gifted student athletes can do better than more gifted athletes with the proper techniques done the proper way, as close to 100 percent of the time as possible. It is what winners do.

            This one day, I was working with the defensive linemen on stance and start drills, the football equivalent to the most basic reading or math skill, necessary for everything else to work properly.  One of my charges (I’ll call him Ray) was a big, fast kid who had been continually frustrated by players of lesser ability blocking him.  On this day, one of his first with me, I kept making him do the drill over and over again, so that he would get it right each time on his own, without prodding. After having been told to do it again, after more times than he had ever been urged to do it, he turned to me and, in a frustrated voice, asked, “What do you want from me, perfection?” My answer was, “No, but what do you want from yourself? Mediocrity?” He paused a second, then went back to work. He eventually went on to be an all-league and semi-pro player at that position.

            What he learned is what all students need to learn. They need to raise their bars higher. Regardless of the sets of standards “educrats” create, if we don’t get our kids to raise the standards or goals they shoot for, they will forever be mediocre. Of course, we don’t want these goals to be unobtainable, but they need to be high enough so that there is a challenge to meeting them. A by-product of these goals is that even if they aren’t reached, they have surpassed the lesser goals they, or others, may have set. Image