Tuesday, November 25, 2014

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Tomorrow is thanksgiving in the United States, and I’m grateful to my brother Jadd for sharing a personal story with me so I could share it with you. In his own words, here’s his story, with a great message as well…

“During the second half of my high school career, I was required to take precalculus to help prepare me for college math.  I’ve always been good with numbers, but I never really enjoyed math classes.  The truth is, it takes a certain level of maturity to look ahead to the future and realize how doing something that isn’t very enjoyable right now may be helpful or useful down the road.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that maturity, at least not in relation to precalculus.

“By the middle of the semester, I was barely passing.  Then I made it worse by not only blowing off studying for a particular test, but writing answers on the test in the form of notes to my teacher like, “I don’t know math,” “I have no idea,” and “How could I possibly know this answer if I didn’t know the last two?” 

“At the next class, when he handed our tests back, the teacher made a specific point of singling mine out in front of everyone.  I’d received a 4 percent.  Yes, that’s 4 percent out of a possible 100... and truthfully, I don’t even know how I got 4 percent right.

“What’s interesting is how much this motivated me.  Whether it was out of embarrassment or deciding that I didn’t like the thought of my teacher viewing me as a slacker, I decided that I was no longer content to just scrape by.

“For the next test, I buckled down and studied hard.  I went in with confidence, and although I don’t recall taking the test itself, I certainly remember what happened the next day.  Everyone in the class received their tests back with grades written at the top except for me.  Mine had a sticky-note that read, “See Me.”

“After class, the teacher laid my test on his desk.  He pointed to several problems at random, asking me to explain my work and how I’d gotten the answers.  After I did, he looked at me, then took a marker and wrote “108%” on my test.  I had gotten every problem right, plus extra credit problems for bonus points.

“I looked at my grade, then at my teacher, and asked, “Is that the highest grade in the class?”  He nodded.

“I thought for a second, then said, “You wanted to make sure I actually knew how to do the problems, right?  That I didn’t cheat?”

“He looked at me, sighed, and said, “You’re really frustrating,” which I took to mean that it frustrated him that I could do next to nothing for half a semester, then score the highest out of a class of forty students when I actually applied myself.

“Obviously, he had a good point, and I learned an important lesson from that experience.  We all have weaknesses and strengths, but just as important as figuring out our strengths is making sure we’re not wasting them.  What good was I doing myself by knowingly underachieving?  None. 

“When you have a strength, it’s not just a good idea to utilize it, it’s imperative that you do so.  It’s not enough just to be good at something if you don’t contribute that value to the world.  When you unleash your strengths and maximize your value, there’s no telling how great of an impact you may have.

“For example:  People know that Albert Einstein originated some of the most revolutionary scientific theories and discoveries of the last century and a half.  But did you know that, after graduating from college and being certified to teach math and physics, he was unable to find a teaching position for two years?  In fact, he was so frustrated that he finally took a job in a patent office, where he worked for seven years evaluating other people’s inventions and discoveries!  Can you imagine what the last hundred years may’ve been like for humanity without the scientific breakthroughs Einstein made after leaving that job to focus on his strength? 

“In the words of Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”  Aim high with your life!  Dream big, expect amazing things, and don’t hold back.  Your unique gifts may be exactly what the world is waiting for and desperately needs!”

Until Next Week…

Live Your Dreams!

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