My daughter and I are anxious to get rid of some unwelcome stress.  We have been working on getting our CDL since my father purchased a brand new 32-passenger bus.  It’s a beaut, and we are so excited to have it.  We can’t drive it, though, until we obtain our CDL licenses.  The process is a nightmare already, but most of our unwelcome stress is due to the fact that both of us like to excel.  

     We passed the written exams and the medical exams without too much stress.  Preparing for the driving test has been a whole other matter.  At the test, we have to do a pre-trip inspection, during which we name every part under the hood, under the bus, on the outside of the bus, and inside the bus while telling what problems we would look for. I do see value in memorizing how the bus should look so that we can report issues before they become problems.  The next part of the test has us demonstrating our skills of parallel parking, off-set backing, alley backing, and straight-line backing.  Both of us are excellent at parallel parking the bus.  It’s usually the hardest test, but I was so happy when that’s the first one I drew!  The final section of the test involves the actual driving of the bus.  The route is fraught with little tests of your knowledge.  

     At least, I’m told it is.  I passed the first two tests with flying colors.  Then I automatically failed the last test out of stupidity before I could even get on the road!  (I let the bus roll with the doors open.  Stupid on my part!)  

     Failure was never an option for me.  Time was a’wastin’, and I had places I needed to drive the kids.  Fortunately, I was able to bump my husband’s slot coming up and get another shot this week.  In the end, I am glad because I will get to be there with my daughter to either rejoice or console.  And believe me, it takes some consoling for us both.  We lick our wounds all day!

     Who built this desire for excellence into us?  I’m sure there is some heredity in there.  I also know that we hold jobs in which are mistakes are very public.  We try hard not to make the same ones over again because “the public” isn’t always nice about mistakes.  I think most of my drive for excellence could be attributed to the fact that I love how I feel when I do something excellently.  

     I try to instill this same desire for excellence in my students.  I tell them that anything with their names attached should be their best work.  All too often, students accept “good enough” when they could really be enjoying the spoils of excellence.  Figuring out how to make them desire excellence, though, is a slow, one-by-one process.  

    I know that, as a parent, you don’t want your child to become compulsively driven for excellence.  You spend a lot of your time when your gifted child was young helping him to accept “good enough.”  I get that.  I see elementary-aged gifted kids cry because they miss one on a spelling test.  We don’t want our kids to be tough on themselves… but…. we do want our teens to be tougher on themselves.  Wow!  Parenting gifted kids is hard!  We know.

    I would say that the key to getting your teen’s “good enoughs” to become “excellents” is to help them get a vision of their future.  It is getting harder and harder to impress people.  It is also getting harder to network and find good jobs.  The sure-fire way to at least get a foot in the door is to impress someone.  And the way to impress is to be excellent.  Perfection is not required, just a desire to do whatever one’s hands find to do at a very high level.  If your teen practices excellence, it won’t be long until he desires excellence.