Tom was nearly crying. The simple math problems glaring at him was killing him. He was on his seat looking around half-expecting his classmates to offer him some help. But they were too busy doing their own; some of them knew what to do, some still ‘getting it’. Clearly, Tom was having a tough time.
“Mr. P?” he softly called me. “I can’t do it…” He was pleading for help – more like scared to try and fail.
I was beginning to feel irritated. I explained the lesson three times already, the last one, just ten seconds ago. But, I remained calm, fighting the negativity that clouded my mind. I glanced at his paper, still unanswered.
“It looks hard…” he said, and looked back at his paper, giving me the impression that he’s staring at strange numerical questions.
A teacher shouldn’t help a student during a short quiz. So I firmly said, “Tom, just solve the questions.”
Knowing he won’t be able to squeeze out anything from me, I saw his lips trembled, and I knew if he uttered one more word, those tears will begin to fall.
That’s the last thing I wanted to see, as it will bother the rest of the class. So I told him, “Tom, I know you can do it. I believe you can. ” Believe. I had spoken the word and I sincerely meant it. Being their teacher for the past couple of years, I know Tom has untapped potentials. Tom was participative during our class discussions — enthusiastically shooting his hand in the air when I asked questions, yet, when it was time to be alone in an island he’s afraid to swim to the ocean. I figured, he just needed to be inspired.
“Don’t be scared.” I continued. “You’ll never know how easy or hard it is until you try.”
Somehow, I knew and felt that my words moved him. It motivated him. The trembling of his lips stopped and his tears became sparkles. I saw a rejuvenated spirit in him. He went back to his paper and started answering.
When I checked their work, Tom got 4 correct answers out of 5 questions. Not bad. Tom’s smile was – like what the commercial said – PRICELESS.
You see, Tom for once has opened his closed mind to something big. And, as one of his teachers, I just wish this becomes his habit.
How about you, do you see the hesitant Tom in you?
Do you stay in a dead end job and say, “Oh, I can’t quit, it’s hard for me to look for another job.”
Or when someone is teaching you new stuff about technology, do you hear yourself saying, “You know, I can’t do it. I’m really not a computer person.”
Or when someone has invited you to dance, do you shy away and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t dance.”
Or do you think the girl of your dreams is way out of your league? Maybe not, if you stop thinking you can’t ask her out.
Think about it. How much often are you going to say I can’t, when it is so obvious that you can? I can’t is a depressing washed-up front for I don’t.
The important lesson here is: if you try, you have a shot at winning something; If you don’t, you will lose everything you hoped for. As the old sports adage says: “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Do you agree? If so, then it’s time to just do it.