Your Online Math Professor

April 24, 2010

Seize the day!

Filed under: Approach,Attitude,Leadership — yourmathprof @ 6:20 pm


Carpe diem.

Seize the day – seize the opportunities that life affords.

I want to focus on one aspect of that statement in this post.

Namely, I want to write about being decisive.

Ever notice how most people act when you present them with a choice, say, where to go for dinner?

“Oh, I don’t care. Anything’s fine with me.”

“Well, there’s the Mexican restaurant right down the road, and the Italian bistro around the corner – what are you in the mood for?”

“It doesn’t matter to me. You decide.”

I used to get frustrated with others who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make up their minds, and who would leave the decision-making to me.

But then I realized something.

Most people are, by nature, FOLLOWERS.

They don’t want to assume the mantle of leadership.

They don’t want the responsibility.

But I do.

DO YOU?

In crunch time, I want all eyes looking towards ME.

In basketball terms, I want the ball in my hands.

I want to take the game-winning shot.

Why?

Because you can’t be the hero in life unless you’re willing to be the goat.

What about YOU?

Are you the type who says “Give me the damn ball!”

Are you ready to seize the day?

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight…

Filed under: Approach,Attitude,Focus — yourmathprof @ 5:42 pm


It’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Don’t doubt the truth of this for one moment.

To illustrate, here’s an example from my life.

My parents were very religious, and so insisted that my education be religious-based, including my college education.

While I learned a lot, and had many good values instilled within me, their insistence reduced my options when it came time for graduate work.

The Harvards and Yales wouldn’t give me a second look, but that didn’t deter me – because there’s a lot of fight in this dog.

I went to a school not far from where I got my undergraduate degree, and spent the next few years working towards my Ph.D. in math.

All the while, I kept my eyes on the prize: a prestigious post-doctoral position that would permit me to excel.

When the opportunity to apply for such a position appeared, I lunged for it like a dog on a bone… and was offered the job.

I took it, and spent the next three years distinguishing myself as a mathematics researcher.

By the time all was said and done, I had become the most accomplished person who ever held that position.

Towards the end of my time there, I was introduced by a colleague to a friend of his, a fellow who, like me, held a Ph.D. in math.

Unlike me, he had gone to elite schools, and at the time we met, he held a post-doctoral position at a Big Ten university.

He had a pedigree that guaranteed success… yet when he heard my story, and learned of my accomplishments, he was AMAZED.

“You went to a backwater college, then got your Ph.D. at a second-tier school – and you’ve done all this?

“Incredible! You’re not supposed to be able to do all this! People who’ve taken your route just don’t get this far.”

Tell me about it, pal.

I’ve had to deal with the naysayers from day one.

But what they had to say didn’t matter to me… because there’s a lot of fight in this dog.

I’m betting there’s a lot of fight in YOU, too, or else you wouldn’t be here.

I’m Your Online Math Professor, and I’m here to help you harness your drive, to help you FIGHT for your seat at the table of success.

Just win, baby!

Filed under: Approach,Attitude — yourmathprof @ 4:17 pm

Trust your gut.

Rolls right off the tongue.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Then why don’t most people do it?

Why doesn’t a man listen to his inner voice, and follow his heart?

Because society has conditioned him to mute himself, and to listen to the voices of ‘wisdom’ and ‘authority’.

What do these voices tell him?

“Don’t make waves… do what you’re told, and everything will be OK… obey.”

Instead of going his own way, he falls in line, and becomes just another member of the herd… and his opportunity is lost.

Joe Montana could have followed conventional thinking in January 1982 – and when he let go of the ball, people thought he was doing just that.

But he wasn’t.

He and Dwight Clark had other plans.

Plans that they had worked on for months, should a situation such as the one they faced ever arose.

Ol’ Joe wasn’t throwing the ball away.

He wasn’t giving up.

He had one thought in mind: TIME TO WIN THIS BALLGAME.

Clark leaped as high as he could, grabbed the ball, and landed in the end zone.

TOUCHDOWN.

WIN.

SUPER BOWL BOUND.

Ed “Too Tall” Jones said to Montana “You just beat America’s team.”

Montana replied “Well, you can watch the Super Bowl on TV with the rest of America.”

What am I telling you?

Just win, baby.

Listen to your inner voice.

Follow your heart.

Blaze your own trail.

Let the rest of the world watch you from the sidelines, while YOU play in Life’s version of the Super Bowl.

April 23, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect?

Filed under: Approach — yourmathprof @ 8:09 am

Each of us has heard the phrase “Practice makes perfect!”

But what does it mean?

And, in what sense is it true?

First, let’s be clear that perfection is, as a general rule, unattainable. Excellence is the goal.

But simply practicing a skill over and over again, ad nauseum, does NOT mean that you will achieve the excellence you seek.

A good example of this lies with playing the guitar.

You can practice for hours on end, until your fingers are bloody, callused, and sore.

But if your finger positioning is poor…

And your strumming technique is deficient…

And your timing is off…

You’ll sound just as bad at midnight as you did at noon.

Get this straight.

Practice, in and of itself, is NOT indispensable to success.

Practicing correctly and consistently, however, IS indispensable.

As Your Online Math Professor, I am here to show you how to practice the skill of doing mathematics – correctly AND consistently.

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