Your Online Math Professor

April 22, 2010

Go for the gold!

Filed under: Attitude — yourmathprof @ 9:44 am

So often in life, you are your own worst enemy.

How so?

You defeat yourself by setting your sights too low.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

When I was studying for my three Ph.D. qualifying exams in 1995, I determined, at the outset, that I would pass all three on the first try.

Accordingly, I studied my a** off for four months.

Nearly every free moment was spent poring over notes or solving problems.

I would set aside blocks of time to take practice exams, timing myself and grading my work afterward.

With both my attitude and my actions, I was making a bold statement to all:

Nothing was going to stand in my way.

I took the exams in January 1996, then waited.

Two weeks later, the head of the graduate program called me into his office to tell me the results.

With a grin on his face, he said “You didn’t just pass the exams – you nailed them.”

By way of contrast, another student who took the exams at the same time I did set her sights too low.

She said that she wanted to pass two of the exams the first time, then take advantage of the retake policy to pass the third exam six months later.

You know what happened to her?

She only passed one of the exams.

One year later, she was out the door.

Instead of being in the Ph.D. program, she had to settle for a terminal master’s degree.

She wasn’t alone.

I knew of other students who failed EVERY ONE of the exams, and who ended up having to abandon their dream of obtaining a Ph.D. in mathematics.

They set their sights too low… and in so doing, they let others set their sights for them.

So what am I saying to you?

Go for the gold!

Don’t settle for the silver or bronze medals – and forget about any participation awards, because life doesn’t reward you for just showing up.

Have a HUNGER for the gold, just like the guys in the photo above.

In your math course, don’t decide to be happy with just a passing grade.

Instead, cultivate that craving for the A from DAY ONE, then set out to do whatever it takes to satisfy your hunger.

At the end of the course, you want to be standing on the top platform, having everyone look up to you.

Go for the gold!!!


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