I've come to the conclusion that half the battle to get something done is just to show up. Too many people fail to even show up and thus the project fails. This includes meeting deadlines for returning to show work completed or other tasks assigned, not just showing up for the first meeting.
The next thing is to just follow the directions. If you just show up and follow the directions I'd argue that 90% of the task will be successful and will meet the expectations. Many who fail, fail due to not following the directions, even very simple directions.
It seems to me only about 10% of the issue is having skill to do that job above and beyond what was directly stated in the directions. Many things are set up that the last 10% doesn't even need special skill or expertise or even "extra effort". Also in that 10% is caring about what is being done. A person can do something with 90% success without even caring.
I find that if I show up, follow directions, and apply my expertise and skills to do what was asked I am accused of doing "too much" and "going overboard" or "going above and beyond" or "being too detailed", when to me it seems I'm just doing a basic level of what was expected.
Also, if I get something done early I get odd looks and it surprises people.
Lately I repeatedly see this with expectations that others have of my children's work. Things like working on a Boy Scout merit badge with a stranger adult Merit Badge Counselor, or teachers of homeschool classes. SOME of the volunteers for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts also do this with the boys.
Everyone seems to expect so little. I'm trying to teach my kids a good work ethic. I have them show up with assigned work completed. I try to have them understand the concepts not just fill in the blanks to get the answer quickly. Later my kids complain they were told they did too much, or what they did was met with shock and awe. My kids ask me to explain this.
Two times my twelve year old followed the directions and was the only one in the whole class (of over 15 teenagers) to do the project correctly. He received raving compliments from the Merit Badge Counselor and from three of the stranger-Scouts. (I think his project was very good but it was not stellar, to be honest.)
In one case my son didn't have time to do the project as stated so he got an incomplete, but two Scouts who brought in ridiculously sub-par projects that didn't follow any of the directions were passed through and signed off as having completed it. My son was angry with ME as he didn't earn his merit badge yet the others got it, the ones who didn't follow the directions. He felt I held him back by not letting him submit a project that didn't follow the directions. He wished he'd submitted his half-done model of a space station that he had to invent and design.
I had to finally just say I guess those adults had low expectations. And I can't help it if adults in charge of teaching a class or leading Scouts choose to not follow BSA guidelines or other stated guidelines and pass kids through who didn't really complete the work. What can I say? I told my kids I can't really explain why those adults did it. We follow directions in our house, we put forth good effort. If we don't have time to finish a project, it doesn't get finished. But we don't submit a half-done lame thing and try to pass it off as completed -- not in our family.
I think we have come to a point in our culture where low expectations are taking over.
I fear this will be part of America's downfall.
We need to teach our children about high expectations and to have a good work ethic. We need people in society who work hard and do their jobs correctly. Period.
Well in the meantime I am really stressing to my kids to show up (early or on time) and to follow directions for in class behavior and for after-class assignments. If they do just that I think they'll be not just average but measured against low standards, they'll be above-average if not considered excellent people and employees.