Jack Watson was my granddaddy, we called him paw paw, and he was known for doing his part to make sure his grandsons knew how to get things done. He didn’t believe in “holding our hand.” He would tell us one time how to do something and then walk away expecting us to get it done. One day, when I was around 12, several of his grandsons were riding with him to go cut the grass at his local church. As we approached the church, he stopped down the hill from the church, turned the truck off, looked at me and said, “Drive this truck up that hill!”
I remember telling him that I didn’t know how to drive. His response is forever branded in my memory, he smiled and said, “That may be true, but you are going to drive today!” Guess what? I drove that ‘55 Chevy pickup up that hill! It took me about ten attempts because it was a manual transmission without power steering. But I did it! I’m not sure if my paw paw ever understood the impact that he made on his grandsons. What I do know is that there are scores of cousins that also have stories of Jack Watson requiring us to do things we didn’t know that we could. He raised the bar.
Raising the bar is a sports analogy that is used to challenge someone to go beyond what they are used to doing or what they have accomplished in the past. In the high jump competition, a bar is raised after each jumper completes the jump, thereby making each jump more challenging.
In dealing with young people it is a delicate dance between knowing when to raise the bar for them or when a kid has nothing else to give. I experienced tremendous growth that day when I drove my granddaddy’s truck up that hill. At that moment, I felt like I could do just about anything! Jack Watson didn’t ask me if I wanted to drive his truck, and he didn’t ask me if I believe that I could drive his truck. Jack Watson told me that I was going to drive up that hill, and I did.
hamsight: do something with the bar