A Man Named Jim
I am someone who would have never amounted to much if it wasn’t for the high expectations of others. Jim Vaught was one of those individuals who expected a lot of me and taught me to have high expectations for myself.
As a child, I lacked confidence due to a lot of issues, but primarily I struggled academically. By the time I reached third grade, I still couldn’t read. Additionally, when I graduated high school, my SAT scores were so low I couldn’t get into college without taking Development Studies first. In a word, I believed I was dumb.
To make matters worse, in middle school I started demonstrating “at-risk” tendencies. This led to a major personal mistake, something to this day that I am still ashamed of having done. The details are not necessary, just know it was major.
Jim Vaught, my middle school basketball coach and math teacher, helped turn a potentially devastating situation into a positive watershed moment in my life. He was firm. He was strict. He was even disappointed. Yet he still believed in me. I could sense it. I saw it in his eyes, and I heard it in his words. Even in the midst of saying some very hard things to me, I knew he believed I was a special kid with a special future. He clearly told me that my tomorrows did not need to be created from my yesterdays; that my future was still in the future. He challenged me to own up to my mistake, seek forgiveness, learn from it, and move on.
Bottom line: My relationship with Jim Vaught—a man who saw me at my worst, yet chose to believe in my best—inspired me to expect more from myself. Additionally, because he believed in me and saw me as an at-potential kid instead of an at-risk kid, I started to believe in me. His high expectations for me became my high expectations in me.
I cannot imagine where my life would be today if it weren’t for Jim Vaught, and so many others like him, who inspired and equipped me to embrace high expectations for myself. These people saw positive things in me that I often could not see. What’s more, they challenged me to become the best “Kent” I could be.
Today, part of my mission in life is to inspire and equip others to embrace high expectations for themselves. Why? Because people like Jim Vaught did that for me.
I share more in Part 2 of this blog…but for now, let me leave you with this simple question:
Are your expectations for your life and career high enough?