How Good Are You?
Around 10 years ago I was teaching high school students and had a particularly difficult day that ended with a stressful showdown with a student. I lost, he lost, and the class lost. After the class was over, I went to discuss my experience with a Rabbi who was a mentor of mine in the area of teaching and classroom management. I needed to understand what I could have done differently to avoid what ended up being a frustrating and unpleasant situation for everyone. After listening to my story, he prefaced his comments with a very powerful idea. “A good teacher does not judge himself by his best day or by his worst day. You are not as good as your best day, and you are not as bad as your worst day. You need to judge yourself by what you do on average, day in day out.”
I would like to broaden that thought for a moment. What makes an athlete great? Michael Jordan scored 69 points in one game of basketball. Does that alone put him in the running for the greatest basketball player of all time? Was he really that good? Should Micheal Jordan’s worst game of his career (and he had a few really bad ones) take him out of the running for the greatest basketball player of all time? Was he really that bad? I believe it does not and he was not. So how do we evaluate his performance and athletic prowess? I think his lifetime average score of 30.14 points per game is the most real way to evaluate him. His “day-in/day-out” overall average performance makes him one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all time.
We all know people who struggle with this. The somewhat mediocre attorney who hangs her hat on the one big case she won. The somewhat “out of touch” parent who hangs his hat on the one great day he had. Sometimes it is the flip-side. The amazing parent who gets down on herself for the rare occasion of losing her temper. The brilliant surgeon who gets depressed because of one surgery gone wrong. One danger in overestimating ourselves is that it will lead to frustration when we don't live up to the inflated sense of self that we have created. One danger underestimating is that we may give up and throw in the towel. If when doing our best we still fail and that failure defines us, why keep trying? On a deeper level, the danger of a lack of self awareness is that if we are not in touch with where we are, we will not grow. If we cannot accurately assess ourselves we will not choose the proper growth course.
So again I ask, how good are you?
Day in day out, are you proud of who you are and what you do? By learning to be honest and real with ourselves we will put ourselves on a path of amazing confidence and personal growth.