Here are two things that I believe about myself:

SAM_2391

  1. I am a good student.
  2. I am not a quitter.

Here are two things I now know about myself:

  1. I am a rusty student.
  2. I may not quit, but I sure can stray.

It’s finals week in Coursera land and I’m cramming.  Not because I actually plan to take the final in Model Thinking – I gave up on the tests some time ago – but because I really do want to learn the material and I really don’t want to have to admit (here or anywhere else) that I am one of those countless people who drop out of Coursera  classes.

I haven’t dropped out, but you might say I essentially dripped out. Nowhere near the scholarly flow to which I aspired.

My intentions were so good. (Aren’t they always?) I began with robust attendance and punctuality. I kept copious notes, took each quiz — and retook them when I didn’t think my scores reflected my enthusiasm for or grasp of the content. I  alerted the TA when study notes were incomplete or inaccurate. I brushed up on skills to support my understanding. I blocked time to study for the midterm.

Then I missed a quiz. And I got a little sick and fell behind in my studying. Next thing you know, my vacation conflicted with the midterm, and what with the day out for illness and travel and  being out of range of all things electronic, I missed the midterm exam deadline.

Or, more accurately: I blew the thing off completely.

Suddenly I am feeling a whole lot more empathy for people who do drop out. It’s such an alarmingly easy slide. A little miss here, a little delay there. The train can be long gone from the station and you can’t catch it even if you want to.

If nothing else, that lesson is long over-due for my judgy old self.

So I’m learning – about mathematical models and myself – and working hard to catch up. I don’t want the train to leave without me.

Life Lesson #18: It ain’t over ’til it’s over – just be sure you’re the one to decide when it’s over for you.

P.S. I highly recommend Scott Page’s Model Thinking class – engaging, challenging and relevant. Best of all, it’s got me thinking about the world in new ways. Way cool.

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