John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. My first year of teaching, I taught 11th grade American Literature--the highlight of my year was teaching Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This Steinbeck quote speaks to me--particularly the high school me... even if high school me didn't listen.
When I was in high school, I was constantly focused on being perfect. When I got to college, I started to realize how impossible this was. Don't get me wrong: I think that aiming for perfection in high school was a good thing. It set me up to have an easy academic transition into college--school was easy for me in college because I had worked so hard at it throughout grade school and high school.
There was a point in college, however, when I was taking 25 units (for context, I had to petition to take 25 units and get approval from professors to take on such a large course load), working 4 jobs, and doing theatre. I was so focused on being perfect--on leading things, getting As, getting ahead--that things started to slip. I had spread myself so thin, that instead of being good at the things I was doing, I was getting mediocre at them.
I take this quote another way too: Be good to people. It's so important to just be good to one another.