Want to hurt a guy? Call him adequate! Nothing upsets a man more than feeling simply adequate: as a worker, as a parent, as a lover. And if he loses his job, his children, or his lover, he frequently feels trapped and depressed because now he is even less than adequate as a human being.
I had a mentor in seminary who now in his eighties and still as sharp as ever. Fr. Larry knew every book and periodical in the library. He was a scholar on the thought of Henry Cardinal Newman’s works (a moderate nineteenth century English theologian and convert to Catholicism) and on canon law. Never given to superlatives, whenever asked about most matters, he rarely said anything was other than “adequate.”
The word adequate has two very different meanings: 1. fully sufficient, suitable, or fit; sufficient for a specific requirement: adequate taxation of goods; 2. barely sufficient or satisfactory: her first performance was merely adequate. It is interesting that the same word, depending on context, can be heard as greatly encouraging or terribly discouraging.
Being adequate according to the first definition really ought to be our goal in life. Even though we may reach for the stars beyond our dreams being adequate as in “fully sufficient, suitable or fit” is rather commendable. Yet how many of us instead default into the second definition: “barely sufficient or satisfactory,” as if we are struggling to meet the minimum standards of manhood.
Coaching can be all about the words and concepts we use to define ourselves and the meanings and back-stories we give to those words. Thus, I hope I am an adequate human being and an adequate coach, with the first definition in mind. I also know that I can shift into definition two at times but that does not identify my whole life. I choose always to see myself as “fully sufficient, suitable and fit!” How about you?
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