On the first day of my initial college English course, the professor announced that anyone who managed to get a single A from him for any written work would have a guaranteed A for the course, and oh, by the way, no one had ever done it. Full of myself, I still thought my odds were pretty good, but as the weeks wore on and our papers were passed back to us marked with Bs, Cs, and worse, we began to realize that the odds were not likely to pay out. I ceased worrying about that A, and spent a lot of time gazing out the 3rd floor windows at the treetops and drawing in my notebook.
In late fall, without saying a word, he entered the classroom and wrote this on the board:
November 23, 1963
and then turned to face us and said, “Write.”
That date, of course, was the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and it hadn’t been that long ago for us, a mere 5 years. I looked around the room at classmates already bent to the task, game faces on, writing away. I was stumped. What could I possibly say that hadn’t already been said? A tragic day. The world changed for us all. The end of Camelot. Innocence lost. And we never felt safe again.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and thought about where my head was in those days. I’d been a total Beatle maniac, and wrote chaste stories that included the Fab Four and myself having zany adventures together. On November 23rd, I’d been at lunch recess on the playground when I heard the news. So I started writing:
“Hello, luv. Give us a kiss, will you? A good start for our trip!” It was John, always a tease.
“Let’s get in the car first,” I said, pushing him away, ”and maybe we can talk about kisses later.”
“Hullo!” Ringo laughed. “Is she being difficult again? How can we fix this?”
“Oh my God! The president’s been shot.”
I then bounced between my happy internal dialogue with the Beatles and the difficult-to-comprehend assassination talk swirling around me. I ended with the shallow musings of a 13-year-old: “I bet the president will look dashing with his arm in a sling.”
Was it embarrassing to claim it? Yeah, a little. But it was closer to the truth than anything else I could have written, and I got over my embarrassment when I received my A, the only person who did.
The lesson I learned was to own my truth and dare to be different, something that can be applied to more than just getting an A in English. Do the same in your business, marketing, and sales efforts, or with your peers. It could be fab, and you might end up getting an A!
September 16, 2020