My cousin is an incredibly intelligent individual. As is my sister. Both of them recently have achieved massive landmarks in their careers. The way they handled this success is fascinating.
The thing that strikes me about these two – one of whom holds a PhD and the other a law degree from Yale, is that neither of them seemed to get riled up over their success. When their big moments came – graduations, celebrations – they reacted with a sense of satisfaction, but not of triumph.
I asked my cousin, who was graduating from his PhD program, why he seemed so unimpressed: “I’m just not surprised. You only feel that way when you weren’t certain of success from the outset.”
There are 3 phases I’d like to look at for analysis:
Imagine a woman standing behind a craps table. She raises her hand with the die, and throws them out onto the table. That is the most success she can ever hope to achieve, she’s already let go of her control. She could not prepare, she could not understand her opponent more than anyone can understand the chaos of chance. Her reaction to a win will be as mountainous as her depression from a loss.
Julius Caesar famously said, upon crossing the Rubicon, Alea iacta est, the die is cast. Unlike the gambler, Caesar was granted the opportunity to prepare. He knew his opponent, and what he didn’t know he could find out through meticulous research. His faith, unlike the gambler, was in a mixture of confidence and luck. He actually had a basis for his arrogance, which was his supreme power as a general, his troop’s proven experience on the field, and his understanding of his enemy’s position.
A student – barring some exceptionally neurotic ones I know – is given the exact opposite equation of the gambler and a more sure position than the general. The student is given a measure and asked to meet or overcome it. Their opponent does not move and does not rely on chance. It relies on knowledge and assurance. Those who go into a test anxious only do so for a lack of confidence in their abilities.
Your goals should always rest somewhere between the student and the general.