I’m not one for hyperbole or grand exaggerations. You do a good job, you do a poor job, there really isn’t any need to be more verbose than that. Yet it seems that everywhere we look, that was the best, this was great, and they were the worst. In my eyes, great and best and worst, those words that seem to intonate inclusion in an exclusive club, it just seems like they are tossed around way too much.
You see it all over the media. That catch by the wide receiver was a great catch. That movie with the aliens was the worst movie. That pitching performance was the best I’ve ever seen. It appears that these words are utilized so often that when something truly great comes along, there are no appropriate words to use anymore. The only way to truly measure exceptional events is through the passage of time and comparison to those that came before and later.
For example, no one will argue that “Bio-Dome” was the “best” Pauley Shore movie. Time has been the barometer for his greatness and we have now had the time to compare that movie to his other successes. While the seriousness of “Jury Duty” was a marked change from his normal comedic fare (wasn’t it?), “Son-In-Law” just doesn’t stand up. It has taken many years for us to finally be able to anoint that movie as the best.
Or consider the play made by Rafael Bournigal of the Dodgers on the last day of the 1992 season to save the Dodgers’ last place finish—could there have been a greater play than that? What, you don’t remember it?
With all seriousness, though, everywhere you look you will hear grand exaggerations. People get caught up in the heat of the moment and for that one instant, that actually was the greatest game they had ever seen, or the best play they had ever seen, or the best movie they had ever seen.
I mean, seriously, you mean to tell me that for one year George Clooney is the sexiest man alive, but the following year he isn’t? It isn’t like he had a horrendous disfiguring accident, right, or that he got any less sexy… But we deal in absolutes and in the here and now. We constantly overlook history and our place in it.
Which brings me to the current situation of my recent nomination by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal for a prestigious award, the Valley’s Most Trusted Advisors Award. It is a truly humbling and admittedly embarrassing thing to be nominated for an award like this. It causes one to be introspective. The questions of do I deserve this and how am I any more qualified than anyone else. Have you ever known me to be speechless? And yet, upon learning of the nomination, no words could be found to express the shock, surprise, and appreciation for it.
You know how Academy Award nominees try to claim that it is just an honor to be nominated? We don’t really believe it because we know that they really want to win. But forever they will be known as an Academy Award Nominee. So maybe it is just an honor to be nominated. Sure we all would like to win, but to be singled out as amongst the best, err, really good, of that year, it’s certainly something to be proud of. Think about it this way—would you rather win the Silver or the Bronze medal? Bronze right? Because if you win the silver then you will forever wonder how close you came to winning the gold—a few nanoseconds, a slight turn of the wind, or a minimal crimp in a knee and you’ve got the gold and are immortalized. Yet the bronze? You’re just happy to be on the podium, knowing that you were one nanosecond, one mini-stumble, one missed bulls-eye from being off the podium completely.
Back to my initial point. We deal in hyperbole and absolutes. Kirk Gibson had the greatest home run in Dodgers history. “A View To A Kill” was the best James Bond movie. George Clooney was the worst on-screen Batman (maybe that is why he lost some of his sexiness from one year to the next?).
And here I stand (err, sit), a nominee for “Most” Trusted Advisor. It is quite a burden, actually. Do I really consider myself be the “Most” trusted advisor? And if I win, will that mean that I am better than the other nominees or, for that matter, the ones who weren’t even nominated? Yet for an award to have meaning, to signify excellence, it requires that we place these monikers on people in order for them to stand out. Thus, “Most,” “Best,” and “Worst.”
So if I am considered to be one of the Valley’s “Most Trusted Advisors,” so be it. Who am I to argue? Instead of over-thinking it, wasting more brain cells on whether exclusivity of a word such as “Most” is appropriate, I will simply bask in the glow of being nominated, congratulate my fellow nominees, and take solace in the knowledge that I didn’t come in fourth, just a step off of that podium on which the bronze, silver, and gold stand.
Have a great week.