“The test is where you make your money.”

This thought pops through my head every time I hand out an exam: “The test is where you make your money.”

My classes are structured such that quizzes are given at the beginning of every session. These ten-question, ten-point, ten-minute exercises are designed to be covert preparation for the challenges presented by midterms and finals.

Though the statement seems to be ignored, I gently assure my students they are facing what amounts to “a big quiz.” And, like every other good professor, I’m telling the truth. There are no tricks, the “weekly practice” format is simply expanded to include 50 questions and lasts 50 minutes.

No matter how well students do in the shorter scenarios, grades are determined in large part by the midterm and final.

At some point, the question of extra credit inevitably arises.

I bristle at the request.

You see, in healthcare–or any field, for that matter–what matters is performance on the day. When an artery is nicked during surgery and blood sprays on the wall five feet away, nobody cares if you’re willing to stay after and cleanup because you failed to handle your duty in the heat of the moment.

Life denies us the opportunity to amend dissatisfying results. A finished day cannot be redone.

You can apologize for your mistake and do your best to make it right, but–whether due to your lack of ability or dearth of initiative–the outcome stands, regardless of how much you would prefer otherwise.

You may have been foolish.

You may have been lazy.

You may have been frightened.

The outcome still stands.

Achievement is not the result of a handout, it’s the culmination of diligence and consistency. It is about more than just expending energy, it is the product of precise application after purposeful preparation.

Asking for extra credit is akin to demanding to be lied to.

The resulting distortion of reality–an inflated score obscuring the truth–only boosts confidence until the next obstacle appears. “Please,” says the beggar, “tell me I’m in a better position than I am!”

Why hide from the facts?

You’ll have to break through the wall to get where you want to go.

Working for your goal defines your success. A full victory can only be achieved at the end of toil and trouble, anything less is hollow at best–and surely awaiting collapse.

Find the means to make your ends.

Passing “the test is where you make your money.”


What Matters to the World

The Tao of John Wooden

The Achievement Cycle


1 Response to ““The test is where you make your money.””

  1. 1 Sorry, Life is Fair « MeBuilding Trackback on July 16, 2010 at 7:46 am
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