Lazy, or Brilliant?
If you are new to my writing you will learn that I tend to ramble off on a story, then at some point bring it back and tie everything together at the end. Welcome to my mind. I hope you enjoy this and find something to apply.
As a child, I went to the wrong school.
It’s not like my parents had a choice – I could go to the public school, or in our province, the Catholic school. Since we weren’t Catholic, that left my parents one choice.
In this school, which I maintain was designed for quiet, little, attentive people, I was not a good fit.
I may have been little, and being a introvert, on the exterior I appeared quiet, while on the inside my brain was whirring and processing a million ideas. As such, I had a problem with the attentive part.
I was classified as a ‘day dreamer’. It would take me a half hour to cover the distance that should have taken 10 minutes. Longer if there was a puddle to explore.
My mind was full of such wondrous things as men landing on the moon, the wild frontier of science, rocks (yes, rocks), Saturday matinees, and western novels.
I loved to find relationships between weird, disjointed things.
I had little mental energy for such things as times tables, historical facts (vs stories), and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t think was important.
Rather than a day dreamer, I considered myself an explorer, a discoverer, and someone who liked to dream about what could be done. (Thanks Robert Kennedy)
In order to not spend my entire childhood locked in primary school (yes, they actually failed children in those days), I had to find a way to cope with, and graduate from the prison of boredom I was forced to attend.
It became apparent to me, that the school system could be gamed.
But cheating was not an option.
If I was going to do this, I had to stay on the right side of the school’s rules.
So… even at a young age, I figured out that if I could figure out the real objective of a lesson I could deliver that, and no more.
Let me explain… If you asked the teacher what he or she wanted, the answer was usually ambiguous – something like “I want you to do well and pass the upcoming test.”
What did that even mean? How do you quantify ‘do well’?
I’m not talking about the marking rubric that defines how to get a high mark.
What I found out, was that ‘doing well’ meant ‘passing’ which meant getting at least 65% of the answers correct.
I had my target.
Remember my goal was not to be the top student in the class (my older sister had already scored all those awards two grades ahead of me, but that’s another story), my goal was to escape with a diploma.
It may appear that I sound like the most unmotivated student ever, but that wasn’t the case.
My goal was to expend the least amount of resources in order to achieve a goal, so I would have time and resources to do the things I’m passionate about.
While I was never in the top 5 in my class, I tended to stay in the zone where I was passing, wasn’t any problem for the teacher, and still had time to explore the things that interested me.
Learning to define what ‘success’ looked like, from the perspective of the teachers turned out to be a great skill. It served me well all the way through primary, secondary, University and an MBA program, which I did while working full time.
I can state emphatically that none of my employers, and I mean not one, has ever asked what my seventh grade math mark was.
They have asked me about my experiences, my passions, and my dreams and accomplishments.
Which I would never have had to the same depth if I had spent all my academic career chasing the wrong goal (at least for me).
If you are interested in this weirdness of my childhood, perhaps you can explore the power of lateral thinking, which is one of the tools I unknowingly deployed during my school years.
You may find Shane Snow’s Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking, interesting.
Here’s an excerpt from the Amazon page:
Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and cofounder of Contently) analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in implausibly short time.
How do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? What do high-growth businesses, world-class heart surgeons, and underdog marketers do in common to beat the norm?
One way or another, they do it like computer hackers. They employ what psychologists call "lateral thinking: to rethink convention and break "rules" that aren't rules.
These are not shortcuts, which produce often dubious short-term gains, but ethical "smartcuts" that eliminate unnecessary effort and yield sustainable momentum. In Smartcuts, Snow shatters common wisdom about success, revealing how conventions like "paying dues" prevent progress, why kids shouldn't learn times tables, and how, paradoxically, it's easier to build a huge business than a small one.
From SpaceX to The Cuban Revolution, from Ferrari to Skrillex, Smartcuts is a narrative adventure that busts old myths about success and shows how innovators and icons do the incredible by working smarter—and how perhaps the rest of us can, too.
Perhaps it’s time to rethink your thinking, or if you have kids in school, think about the goals you are setting for them.
How are you defining success for yourself and your kids?
Something to think about… (laterally of course)._________________________________________________________________
Images: Used under creative commons license.
About the Author:
I’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.
I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.
In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee (www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.
I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk