Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Always give your best

“It’s all that we can ask.”

Now that statement is bollocks.

Absolute bollocks.

Almost as much as: ‘I want to see you giving 110%’.

You can ask for whatever you want dickheads. You probably won’t get it, but you can actually ask for anything.

Consistently acting at one’s best is not something I strive for, nor expect from my child.

This trait is commonly termed as ‘being lazy’, but I prefer to call it 'discerning use of one's personal resource'.

‘All that I ask is that you give your best.’

Oh, that’s alright then, all you are asking is for me to put myself to optimum use to achieve the maximum and best possible outcome I can. Yes, I see now, you are asking for very little. I’ll get on with then, I wouldn’t want to DISAPPOINT you.

I know folks, parents in particular, commonly intend use of such a phrase as gentle encouragement and acceptance for when their child is shit at something, or not expected to complete a task successfully.

But effort for the sake of effort leads to burn out and a perception that somewhat unimportant tasks suddenly have immense significance.

Little picture thinking. Totally unnecessary pressure.

I see it in children all the time. The ‘OK-so-I-did-brilliant-at-that-putting-every-effort-in-I-could-but-what-does it-mean-and-what-now’ face.

It’s perfectly acceptable to be pants at some things, and in which case why waste your energies at them? Especially if it makes you sad, and you are learning nothing.

My ethos is you should always calculate how much to assign to a task, based on possible outcomes, what you may learn and put to other use, as well as where success could lead to. Success is not automatically a good thing.

I am a huge fan of leaving something in the tank.

Having that extra capacity to go to on occasion, when the situation really, really calls for it.

As a sporting analogy, this often leaves an opponent unsure, and at times of the given misbelief they have done enough to win. The element of surprise, guile and cunning should not be underestimated.

And I think I would be doing my child an injustice if I taught him to ignore these subtleties.

And I am all about the subtle.

When I say to my child: “You could do better.”

I want him to know I mean it, rather than for it to be a criticism.

Life is all about being positive, and this stance mustn’t be confused with not giving things a try.

Experience is vital for growth, and I am acutely aware that pain in one area can lead to enormous delight in another.

That being typed, you won’t catch me sweating over it.

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