The Labels We Use – Part 1

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 39 (Issue 1043) September 25, 2023

The Labels We Use – Part 1

G.O.A.T. Systematically Important. Conservative. Liberal. Just a… How often do you think about the labels we so frequently apply to ourselves and others? At various times I have found myself gently chastising someone who, when asked their name and what they do, respond with I am so-and-so and I’m “just a teller,” or “just the receptionist,” or “just a mechanic.” In that moment it is as if their job is somehow less important or noble than other roles. Odds are such self-demeaning statements reflect the way the world seeks to categorize each of us – be it based upon levels of responsibility, achievement, or performance. In the process we also designate a select few people and organizations as G.O.A.T. or maybe Systematically Important as if others were somehow less worthy.

Personally, I find the labels that seek to denote the extremes on some arbitrary and usually ill-defined scale as troublesome. For instance, in categorizing the largest financial institutions as systematically important, are we implying their smaller brethren are unimportant? Rubbish! On the contrary, I find the local financial institutions that serve their communites so faithfully to be vital to the well-being of those locales as well as this nation. Similarly, the individual who thinks of themselves as “just” a this or “just” a that is failing to recognize the essential role they play in others’ lives and success. So, just a teller? Just a bookkeeper? Just a bellman? Hardly! If it were not for the tellers, bookkeepers, bellmen, mechanics, teachers’ aides and so on, not much would get done, especially in the numerous ways that make someone else’s life easier, better.

In the same vein, I have an issue with labeling someone G.O.A.T. In many cases, those individuals are part of a team. Thus, is there an implication that the rest of the players on the team are in some way little more than a supporting cast? In team sports there is always a group of people involved who contribute to the wins, losses, and stats. For that matter, in those sports considered to be individual endeavors (think golf, tennis, track and field, swimming, diving, bowling, billiards, etc.,) those athletes are constantly surrounded by people who make a difference in their performance levels and results.

Consider this: the other day I had the pleasure of hearing the renowned sports psychologist, David L. Cook, Ph.D., speak on the topic of “greatness” (with a little “g” as he explained it). At one point Cook stated that “performance” equals “potential” minus “interference.” That simple formula spoke to me for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was JKHCO’s mission statement is helping

individuals and organizations transform their potential into unmatched performance (Transforming Potential into PerformanceSM for short). According to Cook, lots of things can get in the way of achieving our individual and collective potential. Such interference might be physical, or it can be psychological, or both. Elements of that interference can be beyond our control while some may be well within our abilities to control it. Regardless, in Cook’s experience, our thoughts – good or bad – impact our performance. Consequently, when doubts and self-recriminations creep in, let alone dominate our thoughts, it is virtually impossible to live up to our potential.

For now, I will leave you to think about the impact interference has on your ability to achieve your potential. In Part 2 we will discuss how you can overcome that interference.

Soli Deo Gloria

“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:18b-20

J. Keith Hughey

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Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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