They’re all easy, if . . .

As a college instructor, there’s one question I hear on a regular basis. And no, it’s not “Can we get out early today?” (ok, so maybe there are TWO questions I hear a lot.)

Every time I get ready to give a test, a student (sometimes two. Or three. Often a dozen or more) will ask “Is the test easy?”

And instead of just laughing maniacally, or responding with one of my many stock smart aleck remarks. millionaire 1

Instead, I tell them a story. I think most of them roll their eyes or have no idea what I’m talking about. Or, more than likely, immediately tune me out. (They never tune me out when I tell them about how I like to eat cinnamon rolls when someone throws up. But who can figure what will capture the attention of today’s college student?)

The story I tell them is this. When my daughter was younger, we would often watch the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. At this point, I usually lower my voice and try to take on the Regis Philbin persona. But instead, I think I probably sound more like Monty Python’s Michael Palin doing his imitation of a cheesy announcer.

My daughter was pretty good at answering the questions. I don’t think I ever told her (so please keep this quiet), but I think she was much better at it than me. And that’s when she was like eight years old.

However, no matter which question she answered, whether it was the $100 question or the $500,000 question, if she knew the answer, she would always say, “Yeah, but that one was easy. Every one knows that.”

And I would always say, “If you know the answer, they’re all easy.”

And that’s what I tell my students – if you know the answer, they’re all easy.

If the students are still paying attention by this point, they’re either regretting their decision or on the verge of trying to escape through an open window.

Or, if they were unfortunate enough to have made it all the way through, they realize then that either A) the test isn’t easy, or B) they don’t know the answers.

But isn’t this true – not just for taking a test or trying to take home millions of dollars on a game show, but also in life.

If we can do something, we think it must be easy. Or everyone can do this. Instead, we should acknowledge our talents. Embrace them.

That’s what I tried to do for my daughter – let her know that no, not everyone can answer that question.

I don’t know if she ever listened to me. But it’s given me a story to tell that college students are learning to dread.


  7 comments for “They’re all easy, if . . .

  1. April 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    You know you hit on something there and more people should focus on that, it’s not the easy way out, easy things also don’t take so much effort, the joy at the end of something that was a challenge is so immense compared to something that was easy x

    • April 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Yes! You are so right. I think often we take our own talents for granted – even though often what comes “easy” for us is only easy because of the hours and hours of work we put into it.

      As always, thanks for reading. And thanks for your support and kind words.

  2. April 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I like the idea of valuing your talents. I used to think acting was really easy for me, or art, or photography and so really wasn’t worth doing. Go figure. It turns out they’re not easy for everyone, and I should value that I happen to be good at them (and I practice and practice and practice because it’s fun… and it’s easy because it’s fun). Ok, so I’m rambling and maybe off topic… but hey, good story!

    • April 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      That’s EXACTLY what I mean. I’m the same way – if something is easy for me, I just assume it’s easy for everyone. But I think we know that’s not always true. Thanks for reading, and thank you for your kind words.

  3. May 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read anything like this before.
    So nice to discover someone with a few unique thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up.
    This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

    • May 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog. I hope you’ll try out a few more posts and see how you like those as well.

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