Baseball, Bodyfat, and the Slippery Slope of Standards

I’m fascinated by cultural trends. While I don’t always agree with the way certain things go, it’s an interesting look into the mindset and values that our society is living by. I’ve come to realize that it is a slippery slope of sliding standards.

I was forwarded an amazing article by author and business speaker Harvey Mackay. In it, he tells about a lesson provided by one of the most respected and successful baseball coaches in history about standards, performance, and the precedents you set with your actions. You can read Harvey’s original blog post here.

The late John Scolinos won over 1000 games as Head Baseball Coach at Pepperdine University in his 45-year coaching career, but his message about “The Power of 17 Inches” is one of his defining legacies.

He points out that the size of the home plate is the same in every level of baseball, from T-ball to professional leagues (17 inches). If a pitcher can’t throw the ball over the plate, it’s a clear sign they have to practice more, learn new skills, develop and get better. We don’t say “that’s OK, we will make home plate bigger so you have a better chance of being successful”, or “Don’t worry, we will still call it a strike if it doesn’t go over the plate.”

In sports, this type of adherence to standards makes sense. Games would be chaos if rules and standards didn’t mean anything. Yet why do we fail to do this reality in so many other areas of life? This is why there is a slippery slope of standards.

The New Normal

We experience sliding perceptions and standards in many areas of life, including health, fitness, and fashion.

Here’s a great example. 

When I was in university, the body fat standards charts we used had the following classifications: Athletic, Normal, Overfat/Overweight, Obese. 

These days, many charts show the same percentage ranges, but the labels have changed to Athletic, Fitness, Normal, Obese.

Do you see the subtle shift?

The fact that 2 out of every 3 people are overweight or obese in western society is a serious issue. It has massive implications for the long-term health, happiness, vitality, and performance of society.

Yet, instead of addressing the issue head-on, and putting positive strategies in place to change habits, behaviours, and cultural expectations, a large part of society (spontaneous pun) is “normalizing” the weight gain.

The thinking goes…”Hey, if everyone else is doing it, it must be normal”

The same goes in fashion. Sympathy sizing has been a thing for a long time, but it’s gone to extreme lengths. Look at a “size 6” from the 1980s and a size 6 now. They aren’t even close to the same thing (at least in some stores).

I feel it’s better to continue adding sizes (such as XXXL, XXXXL, 5XL, 6XL, etc.). It provides the reality of the change and helps people understand the full spectrum of different body sizes and shapes out there. Unfortunately, the current changes say that an XXL is now a Medium…which means a former medium is now an XXS.

The Slippery Slope of Standards

Keep in mind, I’m not saying that people need to aspire to a certain standard if they choose not to. It’s just that in many areas of life, lowering standards has serious negative implications for society, and the people attempting to use those standards.

Telling the baseball pitcher that they just have to get the ball to the catcher in the air, doesn’t help them be successful. Likewise, telling the corporate employee they don’t need to hand their report in on time, or deliver their package to the customer sets them (and the business) up for failure.

We wouldn’t consider lowering standards for brain surgeons, but seem to think it’s OK in so many other areas. Sometimes this slippery slope starts with an exception for a certain “high performer” because we value their contribution and want to keep them on the team. Or perhaps it’s a nudging of the standard to help a low performer “keep up with the group”.

Either way, it erodes the efficacy of the standard and makes people not believe in or want to work towards attaining new levels of performance. It also fails to help the people we are “moving the goalposts” for. 

Setting Up For Success

By acknowledging their performance level, actions, and behaviour, then proactively helping them learn, grow, develop, and succeed in attaining the established performance standard, we set them up for future success, and continue to raise the level of aspiration and performance for everyone around them.

We help these performers have pride in their performance, celebrate a job well done, boost their confidence, and have greater satisfaction in their job and life. When we can help people perform at their best, it raises the game of everyone around them. People, businesses, and society benefit.

What performance standards do you have at work and in your personal life? Are you holding yourself to them? What about others?

When we can create change in ourselves, it sparks the passion, confidence, and skills needed to help others accelerate their change.

If you could benefit from some help in creating your own transformation, I would love to help. Keep in mind, I can’t do it for you. I can only be your facilitator. Click the link here it get in contact with us!

Additionally, if you’d like to set yourself up for success and get started on your journey to better health, grab our Meal Planning Success Blueprint! Click the link below to get yours now!

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