Create a Challenging Competition

I get up each morning and stretch. At my age, I need to stretch once or twice every day just to keep my body from becoming brittle. In the morning, I stretch at about 5:50. On the local PBS radio station at that time, they have a short show by Garrison Keillor called “The Writer’s Almanac” where he discusses writers and reads a poem, all in just five minutes per day. This morning he informed his listeners (and me) that it was the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Ah, another fabulous quote and I had written it down before 6 in the morning.

When I talk with people about passing the CPA Exam, I am always surprised by how unenthusiastic they often seem. “I don’t want to study.” “I don’t want to learn.” “I don’t want to take those tests.” I always think to myself—oh my gosh, this must be so difficult for you to do. No one with that attitude can possibly want to do the necessary work. Every day of study must seem like sheer drudgery.

But we all love to see competition—for many, it is one of the most interesting things in their lives. Two tennis players battle for hours and we watch spellbound. Two basketball teams play into overtime to determine the championship and we can hardly look away. Baseball players go at each other for9 innings trying to show who is most deserving. Who wouldn’t love that level of great competition?

No one would ever say that such tennis matches or basketball games were boring and dull. Competition is one of the highlights of daily life. So, why does the important battle of “YOU versus the CPA EXAM” seem like drudgery? I have no idea. In the reality of life, that is exciting stuff. It is boring and dull only if you tell yourself it is. If you think about it being a wonderful challenge to see whether you can defeat the big and bad old CPA exam, it becomes down right exciting. And, it is real life. It is not on television 1,000 miles away. It is your life right now.

Yes, I realize you want to pass. And, I realize that you are willing to do almost anything to get those 75 points you need. Then, think about it as a challenging competition. You versus a very worthy opponent. In sports, in the days leading up to any big game, the players do everything they can to get themselves ready. They become obsessed with the opportunity. They work on the way they practice and what they eat and how much they sleep. It is a truly exciting time. We can hardly wait.

But for most of the people reading this email, you are never going to play in the World Series or the Super Bowl. For you (and me), the true Super Bowl of life is the CPA Exam. It is the challenge that stands between you and your next promotion or your next job. In the world of accounting, the CPAExam is the gold standard by which everyone gets measured. That is a goal that is worthy of a great effort.

And, that great effort is hard to muster if you define the process as being boring and dull. Remember: nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

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