Monday, March 27, 2006

Thinking Big, Bigger, Biggest!

If I had to teach the world only 2 lessons they would be:
1) Keep an open mind in all aspects of your life.

2) Dare to think big. Don’t let people impose their small-minded thinking on you.

The latter is the subject of this post.

There are always people around that will try to bring you down. It will not necessarily be for inherently wrong reasons, they are just misguided. Since this site is about education, I will frame it in this context, but it can go much farther than this.

Before you enter university, everyone talks about the Frosh 15 (or Freshman 15 for you Americans): you’re going to drop 15 percent and gain 15 pounds. And this inevitably happens: the pants get tighter and there is a lot more red on your tests and papers. “Oh well,” we sigh, “everyone told me that this would happen, that’s alright….”

BOO!! BOOOOOO!! You know what’s wrong with this picture? Complacency.

So people say something is going to happen, so we just accept that it will, no mater what. That is complete garbage. Of course the classes are harder, we all knew that was going to happen. There’s more stress too, living alone, relationship drama, all that alcohol, etc. This doesn’t mean that there is no way to do well (or to maintain your weight), it means that you are going to have to work harder now.

“ ‘Work harder?’ What’s that?” You are going to have to work with me here.

By working harder I mean putting more focus towards your work. How can we expect to do as well (or better) than we did in high school by spending more time drinking, sleeping, or entering pie-eating contests? This is just resource allocation; we only have enough time and energy for a set amount of tasks. If we dwindle that away on non-school related things, we should expect a decrease in marks.

I know you want to achieve better grades, that’s why you are still reading this, and it is still very possible. There are 2 big ingredients you are going to need to make this happen: a) A proper mindset and b) Good ol’ fashioned dedication.

I think I’ve already talked about the second one enough, but I’d like to add some points to the first one.

We have to get over our old mindset of accepting mediocrity. We can only become great if greatness becomes a real possibility for us. We have to realize that old performance doesn’t necessarily affect our future potential; we can always improve, only if we are dedicated. If you fail the quiz, you must work doubly hard to do better in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to make the idea of improving your performance in a very difficult subject sound trivial, I realize that it can be quite difficult. The thing to remember is that it is not hopeless.

Also, we must remember that other people’s views of life, learning and ourselves are simple personal opinions that don’t have to affect us if we don’t want them to.

“Oh damn, chemistry is impossible!” Ok, there is a lot of material, but other people have survived before, you can too.

“There’s no way you can get above 70 on that midterm. Last year, the class average was 52.” OK, this person doesn’t understand how averages work. Putting that aside, other people’s performance does not have to affect yours. The only thing to gather from this low class average is that you have to dedicate more time to this midterm to achieve a higher grade. (Or that the previous years students were generally quite poor – which does happen.)

You can’t deal with everything so nicely, sometimes you just have to ignore what other people tell you, because you will not let their small-mindedness bring you down.

Remember that greatness will find you, once you are ready to receive it. This reception is not a passive thing; you must alter your mind quite radically before this can happen. You are ready for this change, I’m 100% sure of it.

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