It did and that meant that I had satisfied the one math requirement I needed in order to get my degree from Arizona State University. While it may seem strange to celebrate such a low grade, a lot of hard work that went into that class. It also taught me a lot about dealing with challenges.
Early in life, I was good at math. But over time, the concepts became more complex and I had trouble connecting with the material. The pace was too fast and my brain was too slow.
After a few weeks of my college course, I had gone past anything I had been taught in high school. At this point, math seemed to be powered by some kind of magic and I had no idea how to cast a spell.
I had two options: Drop the class or stay with it and get at least a “C,” so I could stay on pace for my degree.
I decided to take the challenge. In order to succeed, I created a team and mission statement. I took advantage of my school’s tutoring program. I had friends who I could ask for help. And even though some in the back of the large classroom would cheat on tests, I decided that I would earn my grade from the second row.
Even with the extra help, I struggled and I entered the final exam knowing that I could miss no more than 11 questions in order to get the lowest “C” possible. Sitting next to me was an attractive woman who could only miss 10 questions in order to receive an “A.” I don’t know which of us were more nervous.
Right now in India there’s a former Teaching Assistant who tells the story of a student who looked at the final grades and hysterically asked if a 69.8% would round up to a “C.” It did.
I graduated from college with honors and that math grade was my lowest. But out of that experience I learned:
- Sometimes you will be pushed beyond your natural talents.
- It’s easy to be good at something you’re good at. It’s harder to get better at something outside your skill set.
- Postponing a challenge is pointless. The longer you wait, the more control it has over your life.
- Effort can often be more valuable than outcome. While things worked out for me in this instance, I do know that it’s possible to do your very best and still fail.
- Don’t let a challenge distract you from an opportunity. Such was my anxiety after the final exam that I never thought to ask the woman for her phone number.