In Grade 5, I got my first B by one of my favourite teachers Mr. Keith. When I asked him why, he looked at me and said: “I know you’re not trying. You can do better than this. So you get a B.” As a straight-A-student, that B stung. As someone who wasn’t trying very hard, his recognition that I wasn’t performing at my best has stayed with me to this day.
In Grade 9, my French teacher encouraged us all to continue learning French as it would ‘open many career opportunities for us in the future.’ When asked for examples of such careers, she replied: “Well, there’s airline attendants, … and …um, next question.” I didn’t want to be an airline attendant, so I didn’t take French.
In first year University at UBC, my first math midterm was the same day as my high school graduation in Ontario. (We had ours in the fall so that summer students could graduate with us.) When I asked my math prof for special arrangements to write my midterm he said “Well, there are 4 tests and we take the best 3 grades to make up your final grade. Looks like this one will be a zero and you’ll have to do really well on the next 3.” I got a zero and failed my first University exam (take that straight-A-student ego!).
In my first job after graduating, I was nervous about fitting in to the “real world.” I was a young manager and wanted to prove (to myself and those around me) that I could do it. My boss brought me into her office and said “I hired you because you had a brain and a personality. Don’t lose those now that you have the job.” I give out high fives to colleagues all the time since that conversation.
Every sentence we say could be the one we are remembered for. Teachers, mentors, coaches, artists, and trainers know this – some more than others. When the mind is fresh and open to learn, this power must be wielded both skillfully and intentionally.
The effects last a lifetime.
Pick of the Post: B.o.B. – So Good (Hat tip to Haas for this ditty)