Persevering, Making an Impact, and Succeeding

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Photo ©2013 by Acumen_ [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

As I listened to The Art of Noticing, and then Creating, a podcast between Seth Godin and Krista Tipett, many of his points and claims relate to my life extremely well and are great points to consider and follow as one goes throughout life. The lessons he teaches not only will apply as one is in school but also when one is out of school as well.

Godin speaks about his experience of receiving 900 rejection letters in a row and his company being on verge of bankruptcy for 7 to 10 years but yet he still saw the “no” he received as not a two character word that ends hopes and drops but rather as a “no for now”. His speech on optimism and perseverance really exemplifies the characteristics we practice in my high school English class.

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Photo ©2013 by C.C. Chapman [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

“..that’s not ‘a no’, that’s a ‘no  for now.’ “

Essay writing, an activity found in every English class,  is a process that exemplifies the idea of optimism and perseverance that Godin preaches in his podcast as it is a process of creating and modifying repeatedly until the finished project is something we are proud of. We may start with a lump of marble, crude and unrefined, in our first draft but as we edit and slowly create we eventually reach a point when it reaches a beautiful statue; a sort of final draft that we are actually proud of. The process from the lump of marble to the statue is a long and tiresome road with many obstacles along the way.

Optimism is required throughout the writing process as it is how we view our peer’s criticism whether we use it to persevere on or find offense in the criticism. Often times our first draft will be saturated with red marks, each a remark from our peers; we can take these red marks as wounds to our pride or we can use them as tools to shape our lump of marble into a beautiful creation. They can be taken as a “no” or as a “no for now”; the latter of which emphasizes the idea of improvement.

Photo ©2007 by [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Photo ©2007 by Djenan Kozic [CC BY-ND 2.0]

We will never know how close we are to accomplishing our goals whether or not one more draft will be the final product, the masterpiece we have all been waiting for. We could be 10 steps away from a product we can be proud of or we can be 1 step away, barely past our grasp. Since we may never know how close we are to success and accomplishing what have been working for so long, why quit? The end goal may be only a step away. Often times the first time we do something we may say that its extremely difficult and that we can’t do it however as time goes on and we practice more and more we eventually get better at it. The key words here would be more and more, something we can’t do if we quit half way. The essay revision process that we do in my high school English class reminds me of a YouTube video I once watched in my English class, called Austin’s Butterfly; a video about how one student persevered and improved a drawing repeatedly until it went from a childish scribble to a discernible work of art.

If asked whether I possess the qualities of perseverance and optimism I would love to say “Yes of course I do!”, but it would be a lie if I were to say that. I occasionally possess perseverance and optimism but sometimes I can only take so much; the occasional criticism from peers can be helpful, but a barrage of criticism simply goes straight to my pride and when it does that it doesn’t help me in any way. Most of the time I am rather persevering and optimistic so I would probably call it an occasional strength rather than a “all the time” strength. Peer reviews on my essays in class are prime examples of how perseverance and optimism can be a strength as since I have long acknowledged that writing is not my forte, I happily take any and all advice others might have for me which in turn allows me to become a better writer.

However at other times I took major offense in criticism and didn’t not react optimistically at all. I remember one time my friend asked me for help with chemistry since I was in AP Chemistry and the problem he asked me I couldn’t solve, he jokingly said that I had failed him and at that time I didn’t really take offense in that. Later that day I was studying for a upcoming SAT test and since I couldn’t figure out a specific math problem on the practice test  I was taking I asked my friend for help. He helped me out but then afterwards he told me how he couldn’t believe how I didn’t understand that one question and that the math section on the SAT is the easiest section and that he didn’t understand how anyone could score beneath a 800 on it. As I had been struggling to even reach 700 on the math portion of the SAT and my pride was hurt I completely lost it; I yelled derogatory terms at him and pummeled him verbally.

Another concept that Godin preaches is to make an impact, to make your all into your work in order to leave a lasting influence on people as that is the only way to get people to like your work. I believe in the  idea that your work must be your best possible work, that work you do not put your best in is a piece of work that you should not proudly call yours. The use of self reflections in my AP English 3 class makes one ask them self whether they had put their best effort into their work as self reflections require you to give yourself a grade and justify it and how can you justify it if the work you do shows a lack of effort.

Self-reflections in our class in the beginning really made me realize how my work sometimes really slacked off whether it was due to procrastination or simple laziness and this is something I need to improve on. In the beginning my I had a hard time justifying a good score in my reflections as I had not put in all the effort I could have and I didn’t realize the extent of this problem until I had to look at myself and give myself a grade. Eventually as time went on I readjusted my work habits and my last reflection score received an A- which I was extremely happy with as I had felt more proud of my work than I had in the other past reflections.

Grodin states that in order to measure the success of a piece of work or an idea one simply needs to see how willing people are to share it, often times the more influential work is the more people want to share it. I disagree with the idea that success should be measured in the influence that it has as success is  subjective matter. A newly formed band will believed they have succeeded if they received 100 views on their new track but an extremely popular band such as Imagine Dragons will be successful if they hit the hundreds of millions of views. Success should be how you feel about something rather than how others feel about your work; if you are proud in the work you produce than you have achieved internal success.

His idea of success really made me rethink the idea of success as I have always associated success with setting a goal and achieving that specific goal such as when I am able to achieve the grades that I set to obtain at the beginning of the year. Recently I have brought my AP Chemistry grade from a D to a B and I feel extremely successful for doing that.  I have never thought about the idea that success is measured by how much it influences the people it touches as me achieving my goals doesn’t really greatly influence people around me but is extremely successful in my book. But in the end whether or not you are feel that you are successful or not it comes down to one thing:

“What trial are they going to leave? What mark are they leaving?” 

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