On Not Quitting: Students Look to Athletes for Inspiration

Ask a college or professional ball player what he or she does after a bad game, or a losing season.  Unless the person suffered a serious injury, likely the answer will be:  I went back in and did my very best at the next game. I practiced, and practiced, and practiced more.  I looked at what I did before and found ways to play better, stronger, harder, and smarter.  As the late John Wooden put it, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

Students, whether in high school, college, or graduate school, can take a page out of this sports book.  When your grades are not what you know they could be or your scores on the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, or other standardized tests are not as high as you know that they could be, figure out a new game plan.  (Same strategy if you fail the bar exam, get back in the game!)

Don’t quit and don’t wallow in frustration or self doubt. Channel your energy into effective practice.  Read more.  Take practice exams.  Talk with professors who can help you see how to learn what you need to know.  Find ways to study better, stronger, harder, and smarter. Another John Wooden reflection, “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

There is an analogy between high stakes exams and high stakes sports competitions.  Let us as students and educators, learn from great sports lessons.  And, let us soar to success with hard, smart work.  A third and final Wooden quote for the day: “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

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