Whenever I give my kids a math test, I will tell them, "Try to get a 100." I don't say, "Do the best you can." They may think that a D minus is their best. So I set the standard for them: get an A plus.
Sometimes, they may not get a perfect score. Sometimes they may fall short and only score in the low to high 90s. While they see that those grades are good, they get disappointed that they didn't get 100s. And no, I'm not a perfectionist who's going to make my kids feel bad for not getting 100s. However, if I don't set the standard for them, they would never know what they are capable of doing.
One time, years ago, I boasted to a woman how I got a B in a class. For me, getting Bs was great, because my school grades before my junior year in high school were nothing but Cs and Ds, with a couple of Bs, and on occasions an F. Getting a report card with lots of Bs made me proud!
But this woman looked disappointed and said, "Now, Aiyo, you know that you could do better than that!"
While I didn't understand her logic then, I later understood it. Why get a B when I could get an A? Why get a 90 when I could get a 95? Why get a 95 when I could get a 100? Why stop short of what I was fully capable of doing?
All my life, no one has set a standard for me. All I heard was "Do the best you can," and "Winning isn't everything," and "Well, at least you passed, now you could graduate."
While my daughter was going to private school, she always had As in all her grades, except for one time when she got a B in history. She told me that her teacher said that a B was a good grade. I told my daughter that a B is NOT a good grade. I didn't want her being happy with settling for less than what she could achieve. While I didn't give her any grief about getting a B, I also made her know that I didn't approve of getting a B. I don't want her being like me when I was a kid: a kid who settled for poor grades.
While talking to my former physical education students, I asked them if any of them were happy with their school grades. I looked at their report cards on the computer and saw what they made in each class. Some had all As, some had a mixture of As and Bs, and some had a mixture of As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs.
One student in particular told me that he was happy with his grade. This student had a report card with Cs, Ds, and Fs. Why was he happy with his report card? Well, because nobody set the standard for him. He didn't know what to strive for. If he was like your typical student, then he would have thought that getting all As were for "special people." Heck, I know that was what I thought! Only the super smart kids or the foreign kids got all As.
Then I asked the kids, on a separate occasion, whose fault is it if you get a bad grade. Of course, the kids would blame the teachers. But then I ask something like, "If you don't understand something, what should you do?" Then the kids started coming up with solutions: read the textbook for yourself, research the problem, ask the teacher, etc. The teacher can't take the blame. If you really want a good grade, you'd make sure to do what you can to get it.
But, of course, kids don't usually think like that...and that's because nobody teaches them. Nobody sets those standards for them. It's all about "doing the best that you can."
So, it's time to stop "doing the best you can" and start striving to reach higher than you could ever imagine. Don't just do your best: do better than anyone who is around you!
Now hold on, I'm not saying to live your life competing with other people. But let's go back to school. If your friend scored an 86 on her test, why can't you do better than that? If your buddy got an A- in his chemistry class, why can't you get an A+ in chemistry? You see, when you see what other people could achieve, you would see a standard that you could reach for and even surpass it.
You have 100 lbs to lose. Your sister also has 100 lbs to lose. She lost only 30. Why can't you lose 40? She lost 50. Why can't you lose 60? She has set the standard for you to not only achieve, but to also surpass. You know that your ultimate goal is to lose 100 lbs, but maybe you think you can't do it...until someone else is getting closer and closer to that goal. When someone else set their own standards, you ought to be prepared to go beyond that standard.
So, if I told my kids to try to get an 80 on an exam, they should want to get an 85. If I said to try to get a 90, they should want to get a 95 or more. But if I set the standard HIGH and tell them to get a 100, they should want to settle for nothing less.
How high are your standards in life? What is your REAL best? When you said that you've done your best, did you REALLY do your best? When you said that you've tried hard, did you REALLY try hard? When you said that you've done all that you could, how true is that?
I won't just try to do my best. I'm going to try to do better than the other guy. See, I might have set my standards too low. If I see what the other guy could achieve, then I'm going to do better than him. He had set the standard for me. Again, I'm not suggesting you live a life of competition. But you ought to see what others have achieved and see if you could top that. Your standards might be too low for you. Sometimes you don't know what you ought to achieve until you see what others have achieved.
If you have kids at home struggling with getting good grades, ask them what grades their friends are getting...then tell them to do better than that.
And by the way, just in case you don't think it's possible to get higher than a 100, I wrote a history research paper in college that has gotten me an A+++. I went well above the standards my professor gave me. So even if your kids' friends are getting As, tell your kid to do better. If they ask how that's possible, send them to me!
Now, it's your turn. Don't do your best anymore. Go above and beyond the standards that are set before you.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.