I started out life as a pretty big slacker not really living up to my potential in anything I ever did. Skating through everything was my way of life from school to work, and even in my personal life. An economics professor in college once told me “You are a waste of potential.”
I went to college after cruising my way through high school like most kids my age, and in college I kept up the same routine of unmotivated and unfocused class work. The result of this was doing poorly in my classes and was put on academic probation losing all of my scholarship money. This made me realize I needed to change something in my life, and I ended up changing everything. In my last semester at school my friend decided to join the Navy, and made me think maybe this is the change I need also. I thought maybe this could be the change I need to get my life back on track.
In the Navy I went to one of the hardest academic programs they had, the nuclear operator program. It was two years of the hardest schooling I have ever been through, but unlike my previous school experience I performed at the top of my class, and I even finished as the class honor man.
The difference between the nuclear program and other schools I was in is that they posted the grades for every member of class in the back of the room, and they rewarded the top performers with little perks such as extra time off for the holidays. There ended up being fierce competition for individual tests and course and final subject grades. These competitions for something positive, knowledge, made me want to learn everything I could, and beat the other guys and girl in my class. Who wouldn’t want an extra week at home during Christmas? So instead of sleeping through class and not doing homework, I got enough sleep each night and did all the assigned work every time since I wanted to win the rewards so badly. It made school work the focus of my life. This was a pretty big departure from my normal way of doing business.
This represented a huge shift in how I lead my life. I went from skating through everything I did to being as focused as possible on the task at hand. The competition was a catalyst for me to change my ways, and carried on to parts of my life outside of academic endeavors. Now whatever I am doing I try to do the best that I can. I believe competition can bring out the best in a person.