Wednesday, April 14, 2010

120% Effort

The regular coach of Max's soccer team couldn't make it to practice, so I subbed. As I gathered the 6-year-old kids together for the practice and wondered what was going to happen, as if I were a mere observer, I wanted to give a little speech about trying hard and giving a full effort. When Henry grabbed Keira around the waist and spun her around, I decided the speech was a bad idea, so I had them run around the field.

For the entire hour, I was breaking up wrestling matches and putting a stop to impromptu tag games. It was a mess. At that point, I realized what the problem was. I wasn't giving 120% effort.

I thought back to something I had seen on television. It was one of those fantastic MTV challenge shows in which the young and beautiful drink alcohol, have flings, and compete to avoid getting eliminated. When a contestant lost a challenge, she said something like, "We both gave 120% effort, but their 120% was stronger than ours."

Now, at first glance, that statement seems accurate, especially if you've been hit in the head recently. But you might realize that it's possible that one of the teams was only giving 115% effort, which could account for the loss. How do you express the idea of one team's more-than-maximum effort being weaker than someone else's more-than-maximum effort? Perhaps it's better to express this heady notion using different percentage values rather than rating the strength of identical values.

And that's when I realized that as a substitute soccer coach, I was able to give only 115% effort.