I put off taking this class as long as I could. Kinesiology. Just the title scared me and I had heard the professor was brilliant and a tough grader. I never was very good in the sciences and this class and professor lived up to the reputation.
Each week I worked as hard on this class as any class I had ever taken just to keep pace and keep my head above water.
It was about midway through the semester. The professor was always asking questions and calling on random students to answer them. I lived in fear every session. It was not uncommon for him to have to ask two or three students before he got the correct answer.
On this particular night he phrased this question in such a way that you knew he wasn’t going to call on anyone but, rather, allow a student to answer the question if they knew the answer.
I don’t remember the question but he ended the asking of the question with this statement, “Anyone who can answer this question will get an A for the course.” Interestingly enough, when he asked the question I had the answer immediately in my head before he threw out that little bit about the A for the class part!
As soon as he ended his sentence offering the A for the correct answer doubt quickly set in. If he is offering an A for the entire semester the answer I have in my head must be wrong.
I looked around the room. Most everyone in the class had an incredibly puzzled look on their face. Then a few started to raise their hands in hopes of securing an unimaginable A from this class and this professor. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong he kept saying as people guessed.
As I watched everyone else give out wrong answers I figured I could do no worse than any of them. Sheepishly I raised my hand. “Mr. Cornell,” he said. He always called everyone with a formal title and last name. My mind had never wavered from my original thought. I still remember the answer even though I have no recollection of the question. “Anaerobiosis,” I said in a not very confident voice.
As the professor paced across the front of the room he stopped dead in his tracks. He turned and looked at me with great amazement on his face and he said absolutely nothing for several seconds. “That’s correct,” he said almost dejectedly. The class broke into cheers for just a moment before he ssshhhhd everyone and said, “Mr. Cornell, see me after class.”
When class was over I almost skipped up to the front of the room. The professor said, “Now, Mr. Cornell, you know I can’t give you an A for the semester. I need to ask you a question. Did you know the answer or did you just guess?”
I told him that as soon as he asked the question the answer came to my mind. I KNEW the answer.
I don’t remember what I got in the class but I know it wasn’t an A. However, I did learn that sometimes it’s worth it to take a chance, to have the courage to speak up even if you might be wrong. Most of us are smarter and more talented and gifted than the credit we give ourselves.
What are you holding back on in your life because you don’t have the courage to speak up but deep down you know you just might be right?
As always, I welcome your feedback, comments and shares!
Have a STRONG and COURAGEOUS day!
This post originally ran on June 2, 2014