Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Getting a "B" For Effort

My son's teacher smiled as we went through the pile of work that had been set aside to review at the Parent / Teacher conference. "He's doing a wonderful job. An excellent student. In fact, this project was the only "B" he's gotten all year." With that he slid across the table a poster project with pages of research documentation attached. "Oh, it was a good effort," the teacher explained, "he just bit off more than he could chew. I asked the students to develop a report and presentation about a specific place. The other students picked some place they knew well, like their home town or a frequent vacation spot. Your son picked Oslo, Norway. He said he wanted to learn more about it, but no matter how much he read it was obvious that he didn't know Oslo like he knows his home town."

Ever choose the tougher path only to be given a "B" for effort? Decided to dig deep and learn something new so you could deliver something extraordinary rather than ride the status quo?

Sometimes gratification isn't so instant. You take that path less chosen only to have the crossing guard blow a whistle and frantically wave for you to rejoin the mainstream. In the office you're seduced to give the presentation that's expected. Use the tool that's standard.  Deliver the project as safely as possible. And if you do it you'll get a pat on the head and a nice shiny "A" on today's report card. But before I mix in one more metaphor let me stop to say tat the reward is short lived. Sure, you accomplished the task as expected, but did you even give yourself a chance to stand out? Did you identify yourself as a risk taker who is willing to embrace the greater challenge for greater reward? Did you push yourself to become noticed? Memorable? Exceptional?

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