Make No Mistake

When I played baseball in 10th grade, our coach was forever admonishing us to Give 110% — often prefaced by a forlorn C’mon fellas …

[In 11th grade, the coach would line us up against the chain link fence in front of the dugout and hit baseballs at us. He said this was to train our reflexes. I say that if he ends up in hell, I see the Devil donning a wool cap and lining him up to play — and integrating it with another high school hazing ritualistic game that we called “Butt’s Up.”]

But I digress.

That first coach was simply stating truistic sports lore, asserting that we needed to give more than all.

Being too thoughtful of things like words, when he did say it I snarked to myself, “that’s impossible.”

Technically true, but utterly unhelpful, as he also reminded us, while at the plate: Don’t think, just hit.

Then again, it doesn’t take much thinking to realize that “110%” of anything is impossible. Moderate awareness of math can tell you that. But it’s taken much longer to realize why, and it’s not the maths.

The problem is the concession it makes to those who don’t want to do what you’re asking them to do.

You do not have to ask someone who loves the game to give 110%, because they’re already giving it the 100% that’s possible. I enjoyed baseball very much, but not generally how it was coached, and today not always how it’s played. I don’t know if I love the game. I would like to, with all its flaws.

The Boston Red Sox love the game, at least this year. Last year I think they were seriously questioning it, or there were not enough of them in the clubhouse who did, or those who did, say Pedroia and Ortiz, were not enough to carry the other two dozen.

But this year, they do.

But there is also no imbecilic gas about 110%. When Craig Breslow beat the Rays to close out the first round, he told a reporter, “Make no mistake where our priorities lie.” He meant they give 100%. Factly, that’s what they’ve been saying every time a dopey reporter brings it up: We’re completely committed.

And that is enough, to start,

Make no mistake where our priorities lie.

Still they must keep doing it, and keep explaining to people who don’t get it … or maybe they do, but it’s their job to keep asking the question … but then why that job … well.

They have to keep explaining it because it’s not about 110%. It’s simply about the full hundred.

And geez, I bet a lot of places would be happy with half that, and ecstatic over two-thirds.

Call it The 79% Solution.

Those consigned to an office during the day, such that even a trip outdoors has to be planned, or it might not take place, may be familiar with a sign adorning some cubes and proclaiming, “I always give 100%.” The punch line is a series of five numbers, one per weekday, that add up to 100.

Ha.

These people do not want to be there. Oh, well, they do — they want the money, and they may want other things, but do they love it? Do they love the game? Of course not: if they did, there would be no sign.

That famous Goethe quote about doing and dreaming reads in its entirety,

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no person could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now!

The exclamatory conclusion ends up hardly as important as the action that got Goethe there.

Tim Keller says more simply,

Reason can get you to probability, but only commitment can get you to certainty.

And Marcus Garvey more militantly,

Men committed are not afraid of consequences.

Or, if you prefer,

Make no mistake.

What’s needed is not a mathematically impossible 110%, but simply, merely, justly, a 100% commitment.

M found something puckish on Pinterest t’other day, and it’s much more, and it’s the art for this piece. Two girls, intent and intense,

I would wife him so hard.

100% commitment.

Enough to start.

Men joke that another cries like a little girl.

Now for committing like one.

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