You are contemplating pursuing a graduate degree. Several weeks after you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), your scores arrive in the mail. How do you rank? You discover that your verbal aptitude score is in the third quarter, or below average range. Naturally you are disappointed.
If this was your score, would you still think about going to graduate school? What if you showed your score to a team of guidance counselors or career advisors? They might advise you that you aren’t graduate school material. Some might even be bold enough to tell you that you should lower your sights, which is a nice way of saying: You will never amount to much.
How many counselors would be likely to say to you:
Young man, you have extraordinary leadership qualities, great vision. Someday you will change the social conscience of America. You will have more to do with social and political changes in America than anyone since FDR.
I wager that you’ll say zero, because most advisors judge your future on the basis of standardized test scores. It’s unfortunate that test scores, which take only one day to complete, fulfill their speculations about the next thirty or forty years of your career. If you believe them, you will spend the rest of your life thinking and acting like someone with low potential.
Can you imagine if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had spent his life thinking and acting this way? The GRE score described above belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. (Ethan Bonner, “Colleges Look for Answers to Racial Gaps in Testing,” The New York Times), but he never allowed naysayers to stand in his way. He understood the true meaning of achievement.
There must be a balance. Certainly we all want our children to excel in school, but at the same time we must encourage them to do more, to take leadership roles in school. Encourage them to participate in extracurricular and team-oriented activities. If we do this, we can expect to have a greater number of outstanding leaders.
Portions of this blog were extracted from my book, The Millionaire Mind.