Or the topic can be “Always Stay Humble”.
The best time I feel focused, and archived is when I was in middle school. Let me share the story that I have never shared in the last 17 years with you today. That was triggered by another great book I read many times Good to Great.
The Middle School
The best school I entered in my life is my middle school – much better experience than the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The middle school has as long history as my university – the Luoyang No 1 Middle School.
That school is the best school in the city. Why? Because they way their students are chosen is very simple: at the middle school entrance exam, the top 352 students across the whole city (with 6 million population) are admitted into the school, and other schools choose the rest. It is a simple order by score from highest to lower.
I didn’t perform well in the middle school entrance exam (Seems an excuse. The result may have reflected where I were), and I was around the #352-360 range – one point lower than the entrance line. I should have not been able to enter that school, but they finally offered 10 more students in addition to their original plan. That is how I ended up appearing on that campus.
“Everyone else is Better than Me”
Imagine what it is like to clearly know that you are not as talented as everyone in this school! It is not you force yourself to believe so, it is that you firmly believed it from bottom of your heart! “Everyone is so talented, and much better than me!” This was my belief.
With that belief, life is actually much easier for me. Since you are at the rear of the line, the only possible thing to happen to you is to become better. I played hard and studied hard. Although sometimes my classmates asked me silly questions about homework, I just feel that everyone has some weak points, and I may have more.
The good (or bad) thing for a Chinese middle school is, they have mid-term exam, and the result of everyone’s score is public data – just like a NASDAQ system. The first mid-term exam came. It turned out I ranked 27th in the school (6 in my class? I forget. There are 8 classes in my grade).
Very exciting. It is the first night in my life I couldn’t fall asleep.
The Second Acceleration
I was stuck in the rank 15th – 30th range for grade one and two. When the Final Exam (College Entrance Exam) got nearer (one year away), I felt another round of acceleration. It was based on another belief that I didn’t really need to care how good the people around me were; I only needed to care what I can archive. In today’s view, it is called “a bigger goal than getting into top 15 of the school”. That, fortunately, worked very well for me.
In the last three simulation exam, I got better and better in position. Finally, I believed I took 4th place of the whole city. The guy before me was the #1 in the half million students in that exam in Henan Province that year. To make me look a little bit closer, I took the first place in one single course in the province. (Just FYI, Wendy did extremely well in the mathematics in the same exam, scoring 147 out of 150).
There is no positive co-relation between middle school score in exams and further achievement. But what I learnt from that particular experienced helped me in the future, especially when I fell too good about myself.
To genuinely believe everyone around you is better than you, and to always feel that you are far from what you want to archive, made a huge positive difference in my middle school age.
Steve Jobs said “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” to Stanford students. He said it in a humble way. Humbleness ignites hard work, and unlimited power.
So always stay humble, and you are always not good enough.