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Unconditional Support

A good friend of mine recently sent out an email with a story, and some of his view points that got me a bit fired up, and reminded me of a couple of stories that I thought I would blog about.

This friend has some more consertative views such as my own.  He believes like I do that no one is going to do anything for you, if you want anything in life, the best way to get it is to go after it and get it yourself.

Here is the piece from the email that I 100% agreed with, and what got me to thinking about this post:

"He also talked about accountability and how no one has to be accountable for anything anymore.  Basically its ok to fail, someone will take care of you.  In my opinion its now traveled down to kids sports  - "Everybody is a winner"  there are no loosers in some of the kids sports anymore -Bullshit, get out there and compete.  Its what drives us to be better at anything we do." 

As I already mentioned, I agree with my friends comments that the "there are no loosers, everyone plays, regardless of how good they are, we don't keep score in this league" mentality that society seems to be adopting, actually hurts kids in the long run.  His little rant caused me to think of several things.

The first was an article I read a while back about how college professors and employers are becoming increasingly frustrated with kids entering school and the work place, because they can't take any critcism of their work.  They've never had it before.  It has always been, "good try", or "as long as you did your best, that's what counts"  There was no accountability for failure or sub-par work.  As anyone who works in the real world knows that shit won't work, and leads to short term employment.

The second thing I was reminded of was a scene from Meet the Faulkers (the second Meet the Parents) when Gay Faulker's Dad is showing off his sons trophy's and accomplishments.  He shows Robert Dinero a 5th place ribbon.  Dinero replies, "I didn't know they gave out ribbons for 5th place."

The next thing I thought of was an interview with GM's Bob Lutz, you know, the Current Vice Chairman of Global Product Development for GM, almost single handedly responsible for the development of the Volt.  The guy who over saw the Viper, Prowler, and LH vehicles at Chrysler (even if you didn't like the Intrepid and Concord, they saved Chrysler once again in the early 90's) while he was president of the company.  He also was responsible for initiating the Ford Explorer, which Ford sold a few of over the years.

In the interview, a question was asked to him how he got into cars.  He said as a kid he liked to draw sketches and concept vehicles.  As he got older he started to show them to his dad, and his father would basically tell them that they were ok, or pretty mediocre, but he didn't think he had much of a future as a car designer.  One of the DJ's was taken aback by his dad's answers and said, "nice support from your dad." in a sarcastic voice.  Lutz's reply was that he was glad his dad was honest with him, it made him realize that he WASN'T a good designer, and therefore he didn't waste anytime pursuing it in college, and instead went into engineering, production, and management.

It would appear, from the outside looking in anyway, that things worked out ok for him.

The final story takes me back to a field day at Country Elementary when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. 

My Dad made the trip to watch, which was a pretty big deal, since he worked in Detroit, and had to take the better part of a day off to make the hour drive to Pinckney in time to watch the events.

I had entered into a bunch of races, and did not have a good day from a ribbon standpoint.  I don't remember exactly how many races I entered, but I don't think I got one ribbon.  I was pretty pissed about not winning anything, and was sulking and pouting during the ride home with my dad (another bonus of him showing up, I could skip the bus).  He would try to talk to me, and I wouldn't say anything, because I was upset about not winning.

What I remember my Dad telling me wasn't "well you did your best", or "you'll get em next time", or any type of an attaboy.  Instead I remember him asking me what I was going to do to get better for next time.

Two comments stick out to me from this short ride home, that I remember to this day.  Actually I don't know if they were comments, or life lessons, is maybe a better term.

The first was him telling me to remember this feeling that I had right at this moment.  How upset I was, and how I didn't like loosing like I did.  Use this feeling to work harder, practice, do what I could to try to get faster, so the next time I entered a race, I would have a better chance to win.  Don't use a loss to pout and cry, use it to work even harder, and strive to not let a loss happen again. 

The second was him telling me that maybe entering all running races wasn't the best plan.  At first I didn't understand what he was saying, who cared what I entered, I lost, that was the point.  He mentioned to me that maybe I wasn't the fastest kid in my class.  Maybe my strength wasn't my flat out running speed.  Maybe I should have entered some different events, maybe a throwing event, maybe an obstacle course, or a jumping event, something to that effect.  Something that plays on my strengths, and not my weakness of being a slow ass kid. (ok, that last part was my words, my Dad might have been trying to teach me a tough lesson, but he didn't call me a "slow ass kid")

I still use these two lessons to this day.  I've been chewed out by a boss, or a customer before.  My instinctive reaction is to try to learn from the ass chewing, try to figure out exactly what they were expecting from me, what I failed to do for them, and use that for the next time I have to do something for them so I don't get chewed out again.  I use the feeling of humility and embarassment in the moment, that helpless feeling you have as your boss belittles you, to try to never let it happen again.

I also think I recognize things that I'm good at and try to tackle those tasks.  Tackling tasks that I know I'm good at will utlimately make me more successful, at what I do, and (hopefully) people will notice these things.  At the same time, when I'm asked to do something that I know I might not be as strong at, I try to recognize this as soon as possible, and do things to eliminated the weakness.  Research online or in books, ask co-workers for help, call suppliers, or trade organizations, etc, anything to try to make the task more successful.

We are raising a generation of wimps, and people who expect things to be given to them or done for them, beit from thier friends or family, or from the government.  For the sake of the country (no I don't think I'm exaggerating) this has got to stop...quick!

Thanks for Stopping by - Dan

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