Nearly everyone that I know strives to live life in the “sweet spot”, roughly defined as the combination of factors resulting in a maximum response for a given amount of effort. Our lives and certainly professions have become so specialized that many folks today are are not the grand master’s of life that past generations once were. We have all known folks who seemed to be able to do many, many things well and a few things really well, but they are fewer and farther between than ever. How do you get to be a grand master of life? The answer is simple; experience, aptitude, interest and energy.
In sports, the sweet spots are easily defined; that place on the barrel of a bat, the spot on a golf club face, the anchor point for a bowstring, the center of a tennis racquet face, the perfect flip of a jig behind a stickup, or the rotation on a pitched ball. There is certainly a sweet spot when paddling a canoe and in understanding the requirements that vary from front to back paddler. In the gym, there is a sweet spot between weight and repetition. Along these same lines are the correct tension when cinching a saddle, the right amount of sternness when training a dog and balancing the elements when judging livestock. The grand masters of life have this stuff figured out.
The masters understand negotiation, whether it be at bar side over a cold beer, arriving at an agreeable price on a new car, truck, house or the bid on a construction project. They understand the difference between argument and persuasion, passion and stupidity. The masters take into consideration the differences in children when disciplining them and in establishing expectations for performance and behavior. There is a sweet spot in balancing saving and spending. Who hasn’t spent time carefully considering the sweet spot in the selection of a hat or pair of boots? Balancing comfort and appearance can be a chore……..don’t believe me…ask the ladies who spend an evening in 6″ stilettos, perhaps pleasing to the eye but exacting a toll in comfort, or the difference between a roper and alligator dress boot on a gentleman.
There are sweet spots in the use of tools. There is a very real sweet spot on the face of a hammer when driving a nail or in the pressure needed when using an orbital sander. There are many sweet spots evident in the art of cooking. The amounts and kinds of seasoning, the cooking and baking temperatures, the amount of fire in a barbecue grill and the temperature of the oil in a fish fryer. The grand masters who have added flying to their lives know that airspeed and altitude have very real and pronounced sweet spots. Although it looks like a pilot just speeds up and jerks the airplane off the runway…..that is not the case.
Interestingly, experienced police officers are among the folks best suited to recognizing the sweet spot in many things in life. It is them who respond to the situations where folks have failed, often dramatically, to find the sweet spot. A little too much speed here or not enough speed there, a little to much passion or stupidity in places that would surprise you. The first hand observation of failures to find the sweet spot has provided them the opportunity to see first hand why the sweet spot is important.
Missouri is in the middle of the nation, a geographical and demographic sweet spot. I deeply value my friends, good friends and acquaintances who, by necessity and inclination are grand masters in locating the sweet spot. It is fun being in flyover Missouri…….surrounded by folks who live life in the sweet spot!