Motivation 101

From Joe: In a very few days, my younger daughter Lara leaves the security of home to start college in Charlotte. She is one of the hardest working people that I’ve ever met. And, she really wants to do well in college. She has long dreamed of a particular career and this is her big chance. She is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. But she is also nervous. It’s a big step.

There are no guarantees in life. If she is going to make it, she has to be willing to take the gamble.

Lara has cerebral palsy which has presented her with very significant challenges over the years. So far, she has always been able to work around those challenges wonderfully well. She’s an inspiration to us all. College, though, is a new challenge on top of the CP.

I think she will be fine. However, as we all know, there are no guarantees in life.

What advice would you tell me to give Lara as she leaves home to start her college career?

My guess is that every person reading this email would say something like:

--Go down there to that college and do your very best and be proud of your effort.

--Don’t hold back; give it your best shot.

--Don’t spend your time worrying about the possibility of failure; just try as hard as you can.

--Yeah, this can be a scary time for a person but if you do your best, you’ve got a great chance.

--It will be a challenge but it’s a challenge worth trying.

I have found one thing to be sure in life – it is easy to give other people advice. Heck, I do that all the time myself. My guess is that everyone reading this email knows what Lara should do – take the risk and do her best. Even though there is no guarantee of success, she needs to give it her strongest effort and work as hard as she can to (hopefully) make her dream come dream. Even if she fails, she will know that she has done her best. Failure is no sin but the lack of trying might well be.

As the ice hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky used to say “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

That’s good advice. That’s the right advice to give. But, giving advice is easy to do.

I get emails all the time from folks talking about the CPA exam.

--I’m so worried about passing the CPA Exam that I’m ready to quit.

--I can’t go into the exam site unless I know I can pass.

--If I fail even one part of the CPA Exam, I’ll be embarrassed for the rest of my life.

--I’ve never been good attacking tests.

--I didn’t make good grades in college.

--I’ve been out of school fora number of years.

--I’m very easily distracted.

Quitting is easy. Giving yourself a reason not to try is easy. Walking away is easy.

People face enormous challenges as they get ready to take the CPA Exam. No one ever has an easy road. Should I tell those people who write me to all just quit? Should I tell them to give up completely? Should I tell them to avoid the embarrassment and pain and stop studying?

Of course not, that’s stupid. We all have to face uncertainty. We all have to work hard and then hope for the best. It can be scary. It can be discouraging. But you need to do it.

If you read my teaching blog, you know that I told my college students this past week some of my favorite words from Tom Hanks.

“I am not naïve. I do realize that this course can be hard. Your attitude toward that degree of challenge is important. It is easy to give up. But, to quote Tom Hanks: ‘It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.’

“It’s the hard that makes it great. I couldn’t have said that better myself.

“In fact, go watch Tom say those exact words.”

It’s the hard that makes it great. That’s what I’ll tell Lara because that is the truth. If it were easy, no one would care. It’s taking on the hard stuff in life (despite your own unique personal challenges) that makes it worth doing. Yes, there is no guarantee of success and that can be scary. You have to be willing to work without a net. You have to be willing to risk getting hurt.

But it is the hard that makes it great.

I know you get tired of studying all the time. I know you get discouraged when you come home from work and you still have to spend hours working problems on CPA Review for Free and reading those answers and thinking about what they mean. I know you get scared when you miss a question. I know there are down times when you just want to give up.

But it is the hard that makes it great.

I am reading a book now (Duma Key by Stephen King) about a man who is seriously injured in an accident. Because of the accident, he loses an arm and has serious head injuries. Getting back to a normal life is incredibly hard for him. When times get really tough, he looks deep inside himself and repeats four words: “You can do this!”

And, when it comes to the CPAExam, when it comes to putting in the time and effort that you need, when it comes to having the self-discipline to sit there and get the work done, YOU CANDO THIS!

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