Dear Sedbergh Chums
I am deeply concerned about the economics of endeavour. The Autumn term is fast approaching and once again eager Sedberghians will be declaring their commitment to sport using various percentage ratios. These percentages always exceed 100% and this is what worries me.
I’m not quite sure when a percentage first entered the lexicon of the English language to assert one’s commitment. But by the late ‘70’s when I was at Sedbergh we would often quote ‘110%’. That was until someone offered to ‘give it 120%’ and was promptly given a position on the 1st XV. This person, who had out-thought us all, was clearly an undiscovered genius, but their ambition was to have consequences. It started ‘commitment inflation’ which has continued to this day. What was once 110%, rose rapidly to 150%, then 200%, and now, as I sit here with my head in my hands, an unthinkable 1000%. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, commitment percentages are out of control; and we can’t even blame Brexit.
The danger is that we devalue Endeavour. My ‘110%’ now equals ‘1000%’ at today’s rates. The currency is starting to lose its efficacy; it has become ‘Monopoly’ commitment, not taken seriously, no longer an expression of a desire to do one’s best, but almost a parody of what was once a serious statement. We need to act.
What I propose is a revaluation of commitment percentage. One hundred percent should be the maximum. If someone wants to give just 80% commitment we should applaud them. After all that would be a pretty good score in an exam, and ‘bravo’ for being honest.
And if we are being honest, as we get older, who’s to judge us, except ourselves. Achievement, of course, is there for all to see but even then who’s to say if we reached our potential, if we did the most with the gifts that we were given, except ourselves. We have to accept though that achievement depends much on the breaks we have as we make our way along the great Snakes and Ladders checkerboard of life.
But commitment, endeavour, call it what you will, is different. We can always try our best, that gift at least is ours; and only we know how high we have scored.
So, wherever you are in the world, whatever you are doing, wherever you are on the great Checkerboard, ‘give it the beans’. Find the passion, the drive, the motivation; give it 100%. After all, it’s how we play the game that’s important.
Jan van der Velde