On my way to the book store this weekend I saw a huge Garage Sale. Hardcover books for $.50 Cents. Why Not? I went and took a look, and found a book called Power Thinking. It basically gives insight to how the mind, and our thought processes set us up to fail before we even start playing the game.
One of the stories that really stuck with me was that of George Dantzig. From some internet snooping, I discovered this cat was a pioneer mathematician that did his thing. There are reports that some of Good Will Hunting was based off his life. George passed away last year; he was known as the inventor of the simplex algorithm and is considered the father of linear programming.
All that's nice, but the best story comes from his college days. Georgie boy was a student at Berkeley, right at the peak of the Great Depression. Soup lines and hard times for everyone. He was poised to graduate with a mathematics degree. George knew that it would be impossible for a mathematician to find gainful employment. He learned that the person who scored the highest in his mathematics class would get a job as an assistant teacher. Now this was motivation for "Dat Ass". All he had to do was kill this course and he would have an instant job.
Now Georgie boy knew he wasn't the brightest kid in the class but he had what we all have. The "Grind" factor. He was going to grind out the best grade possible. He grinded every night until he felt comfortable for the exam. In fact, he put in so much work that he lost track of time and ran late for the test. He ran to his desk and looked at the test. It had eight problems. "That's What's Up" he thought to himself ( or "Golly Gee Willikers, 8 Questions" I forgot he was a nerd). He knocked all eight questions out the box. Then he noticed that there were two additional questions on the blackboard.
He wrote them down and started working them. After trying to solve the first one he was at an impasse so he started working the second equation. No luck and time was running out. When the bell rang, he went to the professor and asked if he could have a little more time. "Sure G, You have until four o'clock on Friday, but your paper must be in by then."
George knew that there were crazy smart people in his class and that he had to solve these two problems in order to stand a chance at the teaching gig. He took the paper home and started grinding. He knew that he had know choice if he didn't want to be in the unemployment line. Tuesday & Wednesday he had no luck. Thursday afternoon, BOOOOYAH, he solved the first one. This gave him crazy confidence, and by Friday morning he nailed the second. He turned his paper in on time and went home wondering if he was going to have a job.
Early Sunday morning, George heard a knock on the door. "What the fu...", "Who Dat?" He opened the door and it was his Professor. 'What up Doc? " . The Professor said, George! George! You made mathematics history". George said, "What you talkin' bout Willis". The Professor said, "George, I was thinking as I came over here. You came to class late for the test, didn't you?" He continued, "Eight problems were on the test paper that you picked up off my desk. You solved them all correctly. The two problems I had written on the board were not a part of the test! I told everyone that if they had a love for mathematics to keep playing with these two famous unsolved problems for a lifetime of fun. Then I put those two problems on the blackboard. Even Einstein, to his death, played with those problems and couldn't solve them. You solved them, you solved them both. Not only have you made history, you also have the job". George gave a fist pump and started thinking about his future dough stacks.
That story shows you how we mentally beat ourselves. If George would have heard the statements made in the beginning of the exam, not only would he have not solved the problems, he probably wouldn't even have attempted. That's huge. I'm sure you can apply this to something in you past or present. Believe in yourself. You can achieve much more then you think. It's OK to fail but try again. It's Ok to be disappointed but don't be discouraged by it. Use it as motivation. If you have never been disappointed you were probably aiming too low or moving too slow.
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