In American baseball, a player on first is forced out at second if the batter hits a ground ball which is relayed to a fielder touching second base before the runner arrives. The ball is often then thrown to first for a “double play”—two outs.
The double play requires a very fast relay from second base to first and is practiced constantly. However, over the years, the player covering second has straddled the base so as to get a better throw off to first, and often not touched the base at all. Theoretically, the runner would be safe at second, but is always called “out” by the umpire. That’s because “close enough is good enough” and the standard has slipped.
We see the same in professional basketball, where “traveling” is virtually never called (moving the ball without dribbling or taking too many steps when shooting), and NEVER called on a star. Michael Jordan, as good as he was, traveled enough to circle the earth and was never called for it. Kids who watched him learned the wrong technique.
These same double standards exist in business and society. We allow politicians to pass onerous laws which don’t apply to them (health care). We allow corporate executives to gain severance packages despite poor performance that would simply result in the firing of anyone else. We allow celebrities to spout the most ridiculous beliefs about politics although they have no qualifications for any insights better than yours or mine except access to a camera and microphone.
Double standards exist when these conditions are in confluence:
• The original standard is tough, physically or mentally.
• The authorities (umpires, referees, producers, voters, boards, courts) collaborate in the lowering of the standard.
• The performer feels, narcissistically, that he or she is beyond the normal scope of controls and limits.
• The public raises no strong objection and the activity isn’t impaired (lost elections, lost ratings, lower revenues, etc.).
Look around in your clients for the double play double standard. Demonstrate to your buyer that performance can readily decline and results suffer when standards aren’t enforced and raised whenever possible.
If your fielder can’t touch the bag, you need an umpire who calls “safe” and a coach who won’t tolerate it.
© Alan Weiss 2013