During a dinner with friends Monday night, our friends relate a story of their son Josh, who is in his 4th year of college studying engineering. According to our friends, late every term they receive nervous calls from Josh. Course demands, end of term projects and reports are all coming at him. The last day to drop a course is approaching and Josh is seriously considering dropping a course in order to avoid a feared failing grade. The advice Josh's parents consistently give him is to not drop the course, but buckle down and get the work done. Josh then buckles down, skips out on some of the fun his fellow students are partaking in, and pulls out decent grades.
It reminds me of my undergrad days taking a cost accounting course. The class was taught by a tough professor. The mid-term exam was brutal. I remember sitting with 15 minutes left in that exam thinking: "Well, that's all I can do. This is going to be ugly." I think I ended up with a C-, not my normal A. I clearly had not mastered the material. Lots of my classmates did the same or worse. Many dropped the class, opting to take the class again with an easier professor. Not me. I used the fear factor to motive myself to try harder to master the material for the final. I went into the final fearing that I could fail the class. However, the redoubled efforts allowed me to pulled out a B for the course.
What both I and Josh learned from these experiences is that you can drop out of a difficult situation, or stick with the task at hand. The end results almost never turn out as bad as you fear. It is perhaps the fear factor that makes us focus and give the extra effort to succeed.
If you follow this blog, you know I'm coming off a cold and my training has been sub-par to date. I gave serious consideration to simply dropping out of the MIT Olympic Triathlon this coming Sunday. However, I've decided to cram for this event and hope the results will not be failure. I've run or ridden each day since Saturday. I'm trying to do interval work and speed work in both my running and riding. I'll take Saturday off so as to be somewhat rested for Sunday's event. I may only get a C effort out of myself; I may fail to complete the course; however, I've decided against dropping out. Here's hoping you can cram for an Olympic triathlon final.