We want to build people up, not tearing them down. We don’t want our children to grow up with an inferiority complex. We hand out participation trophies. We don’t keep score because we don’t want anyone to feel like a loser.
I can agree with the sentiment behind such statements, but something is missing.
- We want to build people up … Sometimes the best way to build someone up is to show them the steps to higher achievement, to help them gain greater self-confidence might mean showing them attitudes or behaviors that are holding them down.
- We don’t want our children to develop inferiority complexes … Affirmation is great, but sometimes constructive criticism opens the door to understanding and life change.
- We hand out participation trophies … I’m sorry, life simply isn’t that way. You don’t just show up; you contribute to a team, in a class, on the job, in a marriage. Discovering my true value comes when the world benefits from my investment of unique ability.
- We don’t keep score … That might be alright for preschoolers who might not know a glove from a bat. For most of us, keeping score helps us to know how we’re doing, if we’re making progress toward our goals, if we are progressing in both knowledge and wisdom. If you don’t believe me, try that out on your coach, teacher, professor, supervisor: We don’t keep score – final score, test results, job achievements?
I have had great teachers in my life, some in formal settings and some in life situations. The ones who I remember most are the ones who, in one way or another, told me “You’re not good enough.” To me, I wasn’t hearing “You’re no good.” I was hearing “You can do better than that” or “I am expecting more from you.” I am grateful for those who believed in me and called for my best. Many of my North Fulton buddies remember Miss Acree who famously told her classes, “If you don’t vote, shut up.” Anything else wasn’t good enough!