Be sure to start strong

I recall overhearing a conversation in the hallway of a community college.  A nervous student, during finals week, ask his professor “What can I do to improve my grade in your class?”  The professor replied unsympathetically replied, “start studying at the beginning of the semester.”

I could have related to the students plight, after all I have been in his sutuation more times than I care to recall.  I have been that student who, during finals week, was in panic mode.  Talking to every one of my professors, in some cases begging, to find out which grade I had to earn on my final to raise my grade, and what grade to avoid that would drop my grade.   I should have been more empathetic of the student after spending nearly every finals week of my lengthy college career hoping all my grades would be good enough to avoid academic probation or worse. 

But I didn’t.  It had been a few years since my last college class, and I was now on the preverbal “other side”. 

Although I knew that if any of my professors had told me the best way for me to improve my grade was to start studying, do my homework, turn it in completed and on tine from the beginning of the semester, I would have thought of him as a careless snob.  The day I heard the conversation between the professor and the student in the hallway, I was a mature person who understood the professor’s wisdom I would had missed a few years earlier.

What the professor was trying to tell that student is the time to worry about how you will finish is when you start. 

He was saying that if you get off to a good start you have a much better chance to succeed than if you don’t give it your all from day one.

Jim Leyland, the former manager of the Detroit Tigers once said, that a team can not win a division in April, but a team can certainly lose the division in April.  Of course, it has been years since I heard that quote and I paraphrased what Leyland said, but his point is still valid.

There is a long history in baseball where if a team starts off poorly during the first month of the season, they are destined to finish the season with a dismal outcome.  If you look back at the start of the 2018 MLB season, both the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles had a rough April, and most famously the 1988 Orioles who started off the season by losing 21 games in a row.  All these teams went on to lose over 100 games during their seasons and placed last (or second to last) in their divisions.

Just like the baseball teams who were victims of getting off to such a poor start that there was no realistic way of recovering and winning their divisions, if you do not start off strong, you can get so behind in your race that the odds swing from you wining to you failing.

Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, if you start off strong you will have a better chance of success.  With a strong start, you not only are building confidence in yourself that will help you believe your goal is achievable, but when you hit a rough patch (which more often than not you will) you will be able to recover from it and still archive success.

Be careful!  Do not start out with a big burst of energy.  Every race for success you enter is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, so be sure to pace yourself so you do not get burnt out.

If the student in the hallway takes his professors advice for the following semester; start off strong and continue to work hard at a constant level, when the student hits a rough part of the course and his grades dip a little, the hard work he did before and afterward will erase his stumble in the end.

If you do the same as you strive to achieve goals in your life, you may succeed despite any little stumble you encounter on your path to success.

Leave a Reply