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Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Had A Good Time

I've been in graduate school twice. And I was set up perfectly for a good experience by the challenge of my undergraduate studies, which was a great struggle. When you have an obstacle most others don't, it's a great teacher. You learn all about how your lack of discipline made all the difference between success and failure. Other students can have a life, can coast here or there; you can't. You don't get away with laxity; there's no time.

My other great challenge was and is perfectionism. My abiding awareness that I'm barely scratching the surface could be paralyzing at times. I had to be dismissed twice from college before I could begin to change it.

When I got back, I said, "Forget this, I'm already a failure. There's no one to impress. I'm going to learn." I began to notice that the sheer force of curiosity, the love of truth and wisdom, carried me past my peers. Here's my #1 dirty little secret: Most people don't care enough about anything to stop you, if you want something. Not only is it the right thing to do, to be generous and gracious whenever possible, it'll be like burning coals to those who are seeking a lesser good for a lesser reason.

I am an idealist; it's true. When I write a paper or something, it matters. If I bother to say it, it matters to me. If you are blessed to go to graduate school, be the kind of student the university is meant to produce, not the kind it typically does.

Grab a book that has nothing to do with your studies. Read it. In general, be inquisitive. You might not be a good test-taker, as I was not; you may not be the person who lies or hides what he thinks to please others; go anyway. Jobs come and go; knowledge is real power, even if the wrong sort of people get ahead, though you know more, and care more than they do.

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