How To Turn a Negative into a Positive

From Joe: I get a lot of emails, as you might imagine. I’m always touched by how many people write because they have become tired and frustrated and upset. Over the years, I have received thousands of emails that start out “I work these questions and I miss them and that is so discouraging.”

I guess that is one way to look at it but I’m not sure that’s the best way.

I have a saying that I find helps me to avoid becoming discouraged: “every action in life can have two outcomes: (1) it can help you learn something new or (2) it can reinforce what you already know. And, both outcomes are positive.” If you can look at life that way, it can be a wonderfully positive experience: everything’s either a learning experience or a reinforcement of what you know.

Several years ago, a friend was taking the CPA Exam and he used to love to tell me “all of these questions that I am missing when I practice are like fertilizer because that’s the only way my knowledge is ever going to grow.” Not surprisingly, he passed it all the first time. He just had an attitude that leant itself to passing. He didn’t get upset or angry or depressed. When he got, a question correct, he was pleased but he didn’t get up and dance. However, when he missed a question, he got really quiet and serious for a second or two as he worked to figure out how he could get that question right when he saw it the next time.

I’m convinced that he passed the exam because of the thinking he did in that second or two after he had missed a question. It is in those few seconds when any candidate’s knowledge can grow. Those seconds are the very best time to add points to your score. And, that’s what you are shooting for: increasing your knowledge. If you just keep increasing your knowledge, you will pass the CPA Exam (and probably a lot faster than you expect).

“I’m supposed to take that the exam” is not a good reason.

“My company made me take the exam” is an even worse reason.

“My friends were taking it so I just decided to do it also” is not much better.

Before you are willing to do the work (those 30 questions per day for 2 ½ months for all 2500+ questions or 30 questions a day for about 3 weeks for one part of the exam), you have to know why you want to pass. And, one of the good reasons is that you want that satisfaction of doing something that is downright hard. You want to draw on your own strength, courage, and confidence. You want to feel good about yourself; you want to feel like you do on one of your good days.


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