Don’t Give Me Remarkable

You want to know the exact equation that will guarantee your kids will spend more on therapy bills then a college education? Expect them to be Remarkable.  I’m learning this right now.

I have a 14 year old son – he’s remarkable – at least I think so.  He’s a baseball player and by saying that I know I’m labeling him – because he also loves basketball and golf and Call of Duty on Xbox and his girlfriend and his best friend and his little youngest brother and, dare I say, math (which he’ll deny! – love might be a bit strong).  But he plays baseball like he was born to do it – he feels at home on the diamond.  That doesn’t mean he’s the best, it just means that’s where he prefers to be – thick leather glove on his hand, fresh mowed grass, sun burning down on the back of his neck, salty sunflower seeds stuck in his cheek – it completes him.

Those who know 14 year old boys and baseball – also know – baseball is a game that has more failure than success, by far.  Expecting one to be remarkable, to be error-free – is expecting the impossible. But I’m a Dad – I expect the impossible – I expect Remarkable.  Parenting is funny that way – you have to have high expectations, because it’s really the only way you ensure yourself for kids to reach higher – but trying to determine what that limit is, is next to impossible.  How high, is to high? 

We live in a society where everyone is trying to be remarkable. Somewhere along the way, it stopped being Ok, to just be, Ok. To be good, but not great. To be a part of a team, but not be the star.  We have gotten ourselves into a cycle that is very difficult to manage.  How do you manage a team of people where each one is attempting to be Remarkable – when you don’t need them to be Remarkable.  I need my Accounts Payables to go out each Thursday before noon – that isn’t remarkable – it just is the job that needs to be done. So, how do you manage the person doing that task who is trying to be remarkable?  Look, getting them out by Wednesday at noon isn’t remarkable, it just shows me that we can now move up the schedule another day, I’m fine with Thursday.

I’m scared for a future where everyone feels the need to be remarkable in everything they do.  I don’t need remarkable, I don’t expect remarkable.  I think remarkable happens when a team of good gets together, works together, to make remarkable things happen – not an individual. 

So, I tell my son – I don’t need a hit every time your up to bat,  I don’t need you to strike every kid out, I don’t need you to make every play.  I need you to help your teammates, to help make them better, to try and give them what you can deliver at that moment.  Give me 9 kids all attempting to do their best, and that will look pretty Remarkable! 

(now can someone come sit next to me at games and remind me of this – each pitch!)

4 thoughts on “Don’t Give Me Remarkable

  1. Well written post Tim.

    One aspect I’m picking up here–and notice at my workplace–is that greatness (being “remarkable”) is far less often some individual feat accomplished by a lone someone completing heroic feats. Rather, remarkable accomplishments and results sprout from a fertile team environment where roleplayers are just that and the “rockstars” exert leadership when necessary but always with the knowledge that their actions are enhanced and enabled by their teammates/coworkers. In this way, greatness is more of an emergent quality than an inherent one.

  2. Well written post Tim.

    One aspect I’m picking up here–and notice at my workplace–is that greatness (being “remarkable”) is far less often some individual feat accomplished by a lone someone completing heroic feats. Rather, remarkable accomplishments and results sprout from a fertile team environment where roleplayers are just that and the “rockstars” exert leadership when necessary but always with the knowledge that their actions are enhanced and enabled by their teammates/coworkers. In this way, greatness is more of an emergent quality than an inherent one.

    http://edtalent.wordpress.com/

  3. What’s remarkable Tim is that “remarkable” has now been dumbed down such that doing one’s job is now “remarkable”… Hugh Prather wrote, in “Notes on Love and Courage” that “perfectionism is a very slow death.” So many parents are killing their children with “remarkable”.

    We’re stuck in the middle of a parental epoch where average men and women are driving their kids to be “remarkable” and educators are watering down success requirements so the least competent denominator succeeds along with everyone else. There is no gym because that would require someone to be picked last; kids no longer learn competition and success from competition and success/failure because none of these take place anymore. Parents – typically men – are afflicted with “the older I get, the better I was” disease and believe that their paltry success in Little League play now enables them to assess talent like an Olympic coach. They’re sure their kids can become “remarkable” under their tutelage.

    In the normal curve of life, 84% of any population is average – or worse. Not everyone can be a superstar, yet parents drive their kids to be one.

    Average workers are the foundation for success in business. Not everyone can be the blue sky visionary; can’t have success if all we have are chiefs. If you want to finish off with a sports analogy, I’ll leave you with 9 words: The 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Team.

  4. Great post Tim. I too have a son who is steeped in baseball – 24/7. Unfortunately – he’s the one who thinks 2 errors at shortstop in a season is unacceptable (anyone who knows baseball – that’s pretty damn good.)

    Knowing his perchance for perfection – when we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown we made a special trip to the Ty Cobb display – where I showed him that the highest LIFETIME batting average was .366 – and told him that meant that the BEST hitter didn’t get a hit 6 out of 10 times he came up to the plate.

    That put success/failure in perspective.

    Not to say we shouldn’t try for .466 or .566 – (not going to go to .666) – always try for better – but understand the context.

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