Jared Lankford: Be careful not to know too much

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Jared Lankford

My grandfather used to say that good help was hard to find.

He owned a plumbing business in Joplin for a few years, and winter and summer were his busiest seasons. Pipes would freeze in January and new construction peaked in the summer. In the spring, my grandfather would hire additional help to meet the growing demand for his services.

One morning, a man strutted into his shop and told him he was there to fill the need stated by his help wanted sign. My grandfather, like any good employer, conducted an immediate interview. He asked the man if he knew how to pour lead molds. He was interrupted by the man assuring him that he was a natural pipe fitter, explaining the process that he perfected.

My grandfather then quizzed him about procedures in properly tying into the city's water and sewer. Once again, the man's arrogance interrupted the question before its completion as he proclaimed that he

could perform those tasks blindfolded.

After a couple of more questions with the similar pattern unfolding, the man stated that he was ready to go to work today. My grandfather told him that was great, but he wouldn't be going to work for him.

Offended, the man demanded an explanation. In his mind he knew everything about the job and was the ideal candidate. Why was he being denied?

My grandfather smiled and said, "That's the problem. You know too much and I can't teach you anything." The moral of the story has always stuck with me.

As I attend games, I always pay attention to the coach-player interaction. I listen to what the coaches tell their players and then see if the direction is followed on the court, diamond or gridiron.

Growing up, my dad always taught me the coaches are right -- even if they are wrong, in my opinion. He never once degraded one of my coaches when I was present.

I have been to games where the players were just like that man who entered my grandfather's shop. They know too much. Not only do they know more than the one giving instructions, they aren't shy about sharing their opinions. That type of attitude doesn't just develop overnight.

I've watched fans be ejected for yelling at the officials, lost respect for individuals for berating coaches and witnessed players refusing to follow the game plan, simply because they knew too much.

I've always believed that you can learn something from every person, coach or situation you encounter.

Learning is a process that never stops.

I remember my parents teaching me to use a rotary dial telephone. Now, the tables have turned and I've had to teach them to use a smartphone. Who would have thought I would have to teach them how to make a phone call?

Patrick Murphy, Alabama softball coach, is credited with saying that uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. As parents, we should strive to have children and athletes that are coachable and teachable.

I can't remember how many times I was told that story by my grandfather, but I remember the simple truth that if you already know it all, no one can teach you what they need you to know.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He can be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com, or 417-847-2610.

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