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Meal Of The Day

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Thursday
Nov012012

M or I?

This summer I read a great book called The Talent Code.  It’s basically about achievement.  The author reviews several “hot beds” of talent in a variety of areas - athletics, music, academics, etc.  Here’s a short post from the website on a school that uses a less traditional grading system.

The school grades students’ work with an “M” or an “I”.  M is for Mastery, I is for Incomplete.  Mastery is achieved with a score of 90% or better on a project or test.  I love this method, and I’ve started trying to incorporate it in my own teaching.  Earlier this week, I was teaching a class of beginning French horn players.  They finished playing something for me, and my comment was, “Well... it was close, but close isn’t right.”  

Did you watch that space jump a few weeks ago?  You know, where Felix Baumgartner floated in a tiny pod to the edge of space - 24 miles above the earth - and then jumped.  He free-fell in a pressurized suit at over 800mph, breaking the sound barrier, then safely floated to earth under a parachute.  It was an amazing feat of science, technology, and courage.  Do you think there was anything less than “Mastery” at any step along the way?  The teams of scientists who helped calculate and test every variable were undoubtedly expected to be 100% accurate.  One miscalculation could have led to Felix’s death.

Now, that is clearly an extreme example.  Most of us aren’t going to jump out of a pod at the edge of space.  However, I think it’s good to be reminded that Mastery is always the goal, and 100% is possible.  “Close” or “OK” is just that: OK.  It isn’t “Right”, and it isn’t Mastery.  

Remember, however, that the opposite of “M” is not “F”.  
Lack of Mastery is not Failure.  Your work is simply “Incomplete”.  

As I always tell my students, it doesn’t really matter how long it takes to get it right.  It just matters that you get it right.  Wishing and hoping won’t get you from I to M.  Only consistent hard work and the guidance of good coaches and experts will.

Whatever you’re working on in life - whether it’s a better Snatch, more accurate French horn playing, or calculations for the next space jump, don’t settle for less than Mastery.

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