Driving on my way to school I have a couple of reminders about life every morning and they seem to be very popular in central Ohio…..roundabouts. Just look at this sign….nothing can go wrong here. These things are so much fun that a co-worker of mine has been known to eat his lunch at a picnic table overlooking a roundabout just so he can people watch. Clearly it’s a blast because he invites people to join in on the fun.
Some mornings my daughter gets in on the action as I drive her to school. It’s a constant decision to stay on the main road or duck into the back roads to bypass the roundabouts. But how often is life like trying to maneuver the roundabouts? Take my daughter for example. It’s been a rough year for her. We seemingly unbeknownst to us bought a house that has been plagued with sickness this year. She missed more school this year than ever before. She had tough time adjusting to a new school….a new school district...and just plain dealing with the move as a tween. For the first time this year she was caught cheating. Taking the back road to avoid a consequence. Now let me explain. She is not a bad kid. Actually, I wish I could be more like her at times with a smile and heart of gold. She forgot to get my signature for a practice sheet for one of her classes. Which I am not a fan of signing forms that enforce kids have to do stuff at home. It’s like the reading logs from the elementary school days. While I understand their purpose we all know they are typically forged in that last moment as the kid goes rushing out the door. I personally feel they don’t really make an impact except to serve as a grade holder and unnecessary item of stress. Not really the best accountability tool. So….here my daughter is forgetting to get a signature and not wanting to face punishment she simply (digitally) copies my signature on her iPad and transposes it onto the due log sheet. The teacher had no idea she even did it. But...guilt set in. My daughter felt bad about what she had done and reported it to her teacher. A lunch detention was served. The first!
That day after school with tears in her eyes she tells me about what happened. I was not upset about the grade or the detention. As I told her I was more upset about her character decision. Not wanting to make a big deal I just couldn’t let it go. Why did she place grades over character? Why not just take the hit and let the consequences be? In her own words she did not want to get a bad grade. First, we never stress the overall importance of grades as much as we stress doing our best and stretching ourselves. Doing the uncommon to get uncommon results because everyone can be average. Why is there this fear? Was it teacher induced stress? Yes...I am guilty of telling students to get good grades well, at least I did. Now, I simply look for their best knowing that students operate at different levels. In the end she simply said that it was self induced. She didn’t like to get bad grades. Then just last night she was crying in the kitchen because she believes she is going to get a bad grade in Math. She thinks she is getting a B. I literally started laughing. That's bad! Reminded about what one of my Doctors stated in our introductory course into my Doctoral Program….translated so she would understand it…. I stated the following as captured by her...
I think she got the point!
What drives us all to think this way? Push some of us to place societal norms over good character?
Maybe it’s the NFL combine syndrome. We place all these exceptional athletes on a super stage and expect every single one of them to be better than the next. We give them all scores based on how fast they can run, how strong they are, and how high they can jump. We turn them into quantifiable numbers so we can grade them. Then on an even bigger stage teams declare a draft and select the best. As a society we then believe that everything we do can be graded in this manner and end up forgetting about character and GRIT. We just want the bEST even if it means we sacrifice in other areas.
I believe it is because we live in an ..EST mindset society. Craig Groeschel does a great job explaining this and I’ll do my best to summarize but it makes complete sense. We tend to have the mentality that we want to be the greatEST in whatever it is we do...the fastEST in any race...the tallEST in the class or on the team...the strongEST in the gym...have all the newEST gadgets....be the smartEST to earn scholarships or have bragging rights with class rankings. The thing is we will never be our bEST if we stay focused on our own EST. To become our bEST we have to help bring out the bEST in others. We must be able to identify the who or what that defines our life. Because until then life will be a lot like being stuck in a roundabout.
Just like those roundabouts. To navigate them safely you have to watch out for others. Sometimes you are yielding to those in the roundabout so they can be on their way. Sometimes you are letting others in so they can get through. Don’t get caught admiring the other lanes. Even though it may be moving faster than yours you know the second you switch lanes it will start moving. Then because you we so worried about what others were doing you get stuck in the center only to go full circle again. Stay in your lane and learn to navigate it to your absolute bEST. Don’t get caught having EST envy. You are in your lane for a reason!
Just a thought....
Let me know what you think and share your thoughts in the comments! Look forward to see what you have to say.