That statement comes from the musings of Plato and begs the question; what do we mean by "excellent"? When I have performed evaluations on students in the past, the options I am given to the rate the individual comes down to three things; "Excellent", "Meets Expectations", or the crushing "Below Expectations." There are examples for each category and to be honest I would have to say that most of the people I teach fall squarely on the "meets expectations" category which usually has the characteristics of knowing your stuff, being on time, etc. However it seems less that what you want to impart. Is the individual truly outstanding or good.......and good doesn't mean bad. Too many people would default to the "Excellent" line as they would feel they are being too harsh by choosing anything else and who wants to rate anyone as being "average"? People don't go to school or take on a profession to be just average, do they? Then again, if you rate everyone excellent, then what is the standard? Aren't you just adding to the growing academic issue of grade inflation? Is the bell curve shifted now that it encompasses all the "A" grades? Seriously though, what is the standard for being "excellent" as opposed to other things and how do we keep evaluators truly "honest"?
So many questions.
I think about this during our staff interviews. With every scout that we talk to I ask myself, "is this the next staff member of the year? Is this the next one who will work for several years and possibly become Program Director some day?" It begins with a hand shake.....is it the "dead fish", sweaty palmed half hearted handshake followed by a bunch of "uhms...." to the questions I ask, or is it a strong handshake with the individual looking you straight in the eye and begins their conversation with, "good afternoon sir, thanks for taking the time to interview me." We have many, many staff members that are very good and certainly add to the camp's "excellent" program, but in many ways, they "meet the expectations" (which is good) as a staff member. I am seldom wrong in picking out the individuals that I think will be scouting "rock stars" but there have been a few that interviewed very well but performed very poorly. I often wonder if there was something that I missed during the interview, but a few people have the talent to talk a good game.....they just can't play it. So now when we come to selecting the staff, do I take those I don't know that well but at least meet our expectations knowing full well that we most likely will develop their skills as time goes on to be more than just above average and also knowing that true excellence is probably rare. Then again, we are back to the question....what is excellence? Hard to define, but we all know it when we see it.....right?
Now it may sound like I have an unrealistic expectation of my staff to rise to the level that I consider being excellent but you have to understand.....no one rises to low expectations. Our staff as a whole is fantastic and each member contributes to our program and our customer service that combined gives us excellent reviews regarding program as well as developing a reputation that is known across the nation. It is that teamwork that allows all of us "common" people to obtain uncommon results. Although we have exceptional standouts on the staff every year (and we usually all know who they are as we look at past seasons) it is important to remember that individuals may help win battles but seldom can they win a war. The staff guide, the song leader, the guy in all the skits may be a standout, but they don't carry the program through the eight weeks of the season.......that is something we all do and that is what meets my expectations.....anything more is great, but it is also rare.