A fireside musing on ‘adequate’

Posted on Tue 20 Aug 2013 @ 9.40pm UTC

WE at Learn English or Starve don’t like to ride on the coattails of our betters, but every now and then something seriously good comes along that we just had to reblog it in its entirety (contrary to Internet etiquette).

This one came through the What’s Hot: Latest wire on our WordPress Dashboard:—

Hat tip to to J.R. Practix, a.k.a. Words from Dic(tionary).

(Formatting adjusted to our house style. Emphasis and boldfacings ours.)

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satisfactory or acceptable in quality or quantity

dictionary with letter A

Five steps to building a loser

(for after all, they ARE manufactured, not born)

1. Teach he or she that they were born special and unique.

For if you’re going to fail and not measure up to the standards set around you, you need to be able to forgive it by mentioning your individual genetic configuration.

2. Tell he or she that all they have to do is their best.

Being human, our best is eventually defined as the amount of energy we are willing to expend at any moment on any situation.

3. You should also tell them that they deserve praise just for trying.

Addicting people to praise is leaving them to believe they they’re going to able to acquire the drug on the street. They won’t.

4. Let them know that excuses are the same as apologies.

Can we make this clear? An excuse is the opposite of an apology. An excuse is asking someone to understand why it was completely impossible for you to achieve the goal. An apology is an admission that the goal needed to be achieved, and unfortunately, you fell short.

5. And finally, communicate to he or she that EVERYONE WINS.

Matter of fact, print certificates of participation, place gold stars on their sheet or make sure the pizza party planned for the winners is diluted by including everyone who lost.


We live in a world where we honor people who train, excel, pursue and win the prize. There is usually only one.

Contrary to Mr Webster (or Ms, so as not to be sexist) adequate is not satisfying. Adequate is also not acceptable.

Adequate is when people inform us that they don’t believe we can do better. It is why we will not put up with an adequate doctor, an adequate plumber or even an adequate person washing our car.

What we expect from others, we need to apply to ourselves. Since we know there is no reward for the first mile and blessing only in the second mile, how could we ever think we should be applauded … at the half-mile mark?


J.R. Practix is a graduate of the Hormel Community College, where he received the coveted Summa Cum Ham award for bringing-home-the-bacon excellence in academics. He taught for one semester at the Mount Olympus School for the Divinely Challenged before receiving a grant to research the little-known and nearly non-existent disease of largepox, wherein he hopes one day to provide a vaccination without demand. He was married seven times in 41 years and retired undefeated. He now lives near Columbus, Ohio, USA, with his pet wolverine, Bo, where he raises buckeyes for profit and pleasure. His blog is Words from Dic(tionary).

Words and in-text image © J.R. Practix, Words from Dic(tionary), 20 Aug 2013.


© Learn English or Starve, 2013 (to the extent permissible).

Featured image via Zazzle.com.