I did my best
But I guess my best wasn’t good enough
I gave my all
But I think my all may have been too much
‘Cause Lord knows we’re not getting anywhere
– James ingram, Just Once
I used to work for a company that tried to sell the employees on the idea of having a “Whatever It Takes Attitude”. That sounds great on the surface, but when one applies some critical thinking skills and digs a little deeper it is actually indicative of a rather sinister scheme that has infiltrated not only the corporate culture but all areas of society.
One of the many Dadisms that my father has taught me over the years is something along the lines of “They name streets after people like him/her/them…One Way”. And that is exactly what is wrong with platitudes like the “Whatever It Takes Attitude.” It’s a one way street. You are expected to go above & beyond, go the extra mile, and do more than what is typically required. Doing just what you are supposed to do is seen as lazy and putting forth minimal effort. Doing more isn’t appreciated…it is expected. But on the flip side, even after you’ve put forth extra effort, been readily available even when you didn’t have to be, and twisted your life in knots to help others the minute you make a mistake they turn on you like a viper. One…way…street.
We always hear athletes and other famous types talking about giving 110%. But my question is this: When did giving 100% cease to be sufficient?? Why is my best never good enough??
I am well aware that ultra-successful, driven, prosperous people like politicians, billionaire businessmen, doctors, lawyers, etc. are, more often than not, overachievers that embody the very ideal that I am railing against. And you know what…God bless them. I have the utmost respect for those individuals. However, let’s be honest…most of us are not them. The majority of folks…if they are fortunate enough to have a job in the current Obameconomy…are just doing the best they can to put food on the table, pay the bills, and maybe have a few luxuries like satellite TV, the occasional steak dinner, and a summer vacation to the nearest family friendly amusement park. We are more than willing to put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, but we do have lives and are not defined by our careers. We don’t mind being somewhat flexible and taking one for the team sometimes, but it becomes a bit much when we are expected…not asked but expected…to sacrifice ourselves at the altar of whoever it is that is using us like a cheap street walker and assuming we should just shut up, bend over, and put a smile on our face. It is certainly not too much to expect maximum effort…the aforementioned 100%. But the new standard of 110% seems just a bit presumptuous and is most definitely aggravating, especially when one realizes that there is no reciprocation, that those asking so much of us are rather unwilling to cut any slack or accommodate in likewise fashion.
I am not nor never have been married, but maybe all this is why the divorce rate is so high. How much pressure would it be to live with…to be married to…someone who has such high expectations on a daily basis?? If one person is giving 100% but for the other that is never good enough then the numbers are never going to add up and there would be constant upheaval.
I wonder if this is why society has become so…anti-social?? Facebook, Xbox, and iTunes don’t expect 110%. They don’t have any expectations at all.
Pets are also awesome because they aren’t going to complain about you not going the extra mile. As long as you feed & water your dog and give him some love & attention he’ll think you’re the greatest thing since Kibbles met Bits.
The sad thing is that so many buy into all this BS because of a lifetime of watching too much unrealistic TV and having various people in our lives convince us that what we have to offer doesn’t measure up. We whine & complain about The Rat Race on a daily basis but we get up each & every day and fall right in lockstep because we don’t want to be left behind. We let people bully us, push us around, and generally make life miserable, and for what?? The book of Ecclesiastes asks the question “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” and tells us that “all is vanity”. The narrator of the story then answers his own query: “I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled, and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.”
To be clear, I am not condemning the concept of hard work & dedication. I am fully behind that notion. What I am critical of is what seems to be a constantly raising bar that is unreachable by definition. Somehow we have gotten to a point where we don’t even dangle carrots or offer challenges that can be met before putting forth the next goal to be achieved. We just beat people down on a daily basis and expect them to be happy about it. The powers-that-be use & abuse their charges simply because they can. Is it slavery?? Of course not. Most people get something out of whatever it is they are doing. They are compensated by an employer or fed (theoretically) spiritually by the church or have some sort of status, prestige, cachet, etc. attached to whatever extracurricular activity with which they may be involved. But the assumptions, mistreatment, and being taking advantage of are all still there. And sometimes a paycheck that barely covers expenses or a pat on the back for helping out with the community hot dog sale don’t make up for the constant look of disappointment and snide words of derision people spew because one did not live up to their unreasonably excessive expectations.
So y’all go ahead and give 110%, go the extra mile, and do “whatever it takes” to make other people…people who will screw you over in a heartbeat…happy. As for your humble Potentate of Profundity, I will continue to just do the best that I can knowing that is all it takes to make the man in the mirror happy and that is all that really matters. 100% is good enough for me, I believe it’s just dandy in the eyes of God, and it thrills my dog. The rest is just vanity.
- All is Vanity (christianminimalism.wordpress.com)
- Vanity: Where’s the Outrage regarding “Occupy Wall Street”? (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Work and Its Rewards (ecobee27.wordpress.com)