Moving Up Is Not Graduating Let's celebrate actual accomplishments and reset the bar

by Craig Playstead June 18, 2015
photo by Michael Bentley

It’s not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade. It’s psychotic!  They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity

 – Mr. Incredible

Moving up is not graduating. You don’t “graduate” from the 4th grade.

Let me back up. Not long ago, I figured out that I played a total of 44 sports seasons growing up. That’s all sports, every season from five years old through high school  (Not a great career, but no one worked harder, made better friends or had more fun.).

I earned two trophies. Two (And honestly, one was for Punt, Pass & Kick which we took very seriously in 1979).

I loved those trophies because they meant something. I earned them for getting to the top of a mountain that took a lot of hard work, long tube socks, sweat, and tears. (Sometimes I cried when I lost.) It took my oldest son two years to get two trophies. He beat me by 42 seasons. There’s something wrong with how we’re doing things.

We need to stop praising mediocrity. This is the perfect time for this conversation because it’s graduation season. Graduation is a huge milestone in what will hopefully be a long and interesting life. Don’t undervalue it, but we all need to agree on what graduating means.

There are only two graduations in your life: high school and college. That’s it — that’s the list. Every other time you move up a grade it’s called … “moving up.” And if you don’t move up you’re a

Photo by Doc Gratis

These are “Sweat Hogs.”

Sweat-Hog.” I’m not being mean, it’s a fact. If your son or daughter moves from elementary school to middle school, that’s a big deal, but it’s not a graduation. Pat them on the back, take them to dinner, but don’t treat it like it’s a major accomplishment. It’s what’s expected of them, and that bar is set very low.

We continue to praise mediocrity and what’s expected out of people, and it deludes true accomplishment. You don’t get success in life by doing what’s expected of you. You only excel when you do something above what’s expected of you. That’s the only way you get  promoted in the business world — not when you do just do your job, but when you go above and beyond. No one should ever be rewarded simply for showing up. Can you imagine being recognized at work because you showed up that day? Or getting a trophy because you finished a yoga class? That’s what we’re doing to our kids with participation trophies and made-up graduations.

To be honest, it’s part of the problem with our country. We’re not striving for greatness anymore. Instead, we’re striving to make everyone feel good (and compose the best text message with only 65% of the words misspelled.). We need to dig down deeper and start dominating again.

Encourage your kids to work hard and praise the hard work … even when they fail. But stop praising things that they’re expected to do. And if you’re raising a “Sweat-Hog” that’s okay too.

Even Juan Epstein had a mom.

Follow me on Twitter @playstead for great tips, and a few laughs.

 

 

photo by Michael Bentley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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