Since When is “Good” Bad?

2015_WBB_Champsgolden stateRecently, a Boston Globe columnist; Dan Shaughnessy, wrote that the dominance of the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team was bad for the sport! As of the writing of this post, it is the day after they soundly defeated Texas to get into the final four of the NCAA tournament for the ninth year in a row! They are two victories away from their fourth national championship in a row and their record 11th!  This particular team has won over 70 games in a row and an edition of the team had a streak of 90 games without a loss some years ago! Talk about good; these young ladies and the coaches of this team are not just “good,” they are excellent!

And in the course of human history, excellence has always been a problem! A prime example was what happened to Jesus! According to the biblical text, Jesus was not crucified alone! There were two criminal crucified along with him! On that day, that society crucified the very best and the very worst! People don’t seem to have a problem with you if you are just average, mediocre, or ordinary. It’s when you are either very bad or very good that you prick the consciousness of the culture! I can understand the concern for the very bad, but when the very good suffers the same fate as the very bad, that does not speak well at all!

So, what’s the problem with the very good? I would like to suggest that the root of the problem is the fact that sin (Yes! I know it’s an old fashion word and even most church people don’t believe in “sin” anymore. But, nevertheless, the Word of God is true!) has corrupted and twisted the minds of men. It’s evident in our public education system: When I was in school, every student strived for good grades and excellence, now our children are systematically being conditioned to settle for being average because being too good and making too good grades will injure the self-esteem of their under-performing classmates! When I was in school, when we had competition, there were only three (3) medals or ribbons given: First place, second place, and third place! Now, just so nobody will “feel bad,” every person is given a medal or a ribbon for just participating!

We have a problem with the very good and the concept of excellence because, for the most part, instead of trying to improve to reach the standards, most people today want to lower the standards so that everybody wins! That is why there is criticism of the University of Connecticut’s women basketball team! That is why the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry are criticized: Their excellence and success shows up the failures of others!  I remember once when my son came home from school complaining about the fact that he had failed a test! He said the test was too hard and that it wasn’t a fair test! I asked him if any of his classmates passed the test. He said that some of them did. I told him, that if had been an unfair or too hard of a test, then none of the students would have passed. But the fact that some of them passed, meant that all of them could have passed!

Instead of criticizing the UConn women’s basketball program and the Golden State Warriors, we should be taking lessons from them! They should be upheld as sources of inspiration and hope, because if they can do it; that means it can be done by others! And if others aren’t doing it, that’s not the fault of those who are doing it! Leave the girls alone! Leave Steph alone! They are not bad for the sport! They are not bad at all! They are good for the sport and they are good for life! They are inspirations and shining stars to those who are yet wallowing and floundering in the wilderness of mediocrity!

The Decline of Excellence

Maybe you haven’t noticed or maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be an alarming trend developing in our society these days! It seems as though, for the most part, mediocrity has become the standard of the day! Excellence no longer seems to be the common standard or goal of achievement. The common populace has grown to expect and accept the average and the ordinary as being the highest possible level of performance! This has happened to such a degree that when one performs competently in his or her field of endeavor, one is actually looked upon as doing something extraordinary! Incompetence and sub-par performance have become the norm of the day! The standards of performance have declined to the point that mediocrity and sub-par performance is expected and considered normal, while doing what is actually the normal requirement is hailed as extraordinary!

This first came to my attention some time ago when I was visiting a local McDonald’s restaurant. It wasn’t overly crowded and I was a bit pressed for time. I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but it seemed like the employees who worked there looked upon my visit as an intrusion or an interruption! I can remember the commercials some years ago when McDonald’s took pride in the fact that they were the “fastest” in the fast-food industry! But, have you visited a McDonald’s or any other fast-food restaurant lately? The next time this matter of pervasive incompetence was brought to the forefront of my thinking was when I was in the market for my first house. The real estate agents and the financial people I came in contact with were a bit sub-par, to say the least! I will spare you the gory details, but suffice to say, it was a frustrating experience and a grand display idiotic incompetence!

In many public school systems, it seems as though children are being “dummied down” to accept “C’s” and average grades as worthy goals! Today, among many school children, it’s not “cool” to be smart or even to speak Standard English! Years ago the heroes were inventors and pioneers, today they are ball players and music stars. Now this is not to demean these people or their professions as not being worthy roles models (although many of them are not!), but our children need to know that statistically speaking, their chances for making it to the NBA, the NFL, or cutting a multimillion dollar record deal are quite slim! And besides that, even if they do make it, would be to their advantage to know how to competently handle their own business affairs. The sports and music industries are littered with the wreckage of many who had the “talent” to perform but did not have the “smarts” to handle their business!

In whatever field of endeavor you are in, if you will determine to be competent in what you are doing. If you will make up your mind to refuse to drown in a sea of mediocrity. If you will determine to be the best in your chosen field. If you will always do more than what is required and do it well; not settling for doing just enough to get by. If you will elevate the standards and expectations for yourself and those with whom you associate: The world will beat a path to your doorstep and elevate you to the top of your field! If you will adopt excellence as your standard, you will rise to the top!