Joe was a 16-year-old high school student with below average grades and an “I don’t care attitude” concerning his academic future. Joe’s dad asked him one day, “Joe, are you going to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test –given to measure a high school student’s readiness for college)? The highest score one can achieve on the SAT is 1600, and according to the Princeton Review, the average SAT score is 1060.
After some pressure from his dad, Joe decided to take the SAT, though he felt it was meaningless since Joe had no academic ambitions beyond his lackluster high school performance. Several weeks later, Joe received his SAT score in the mail. He almost threw the unopened envelope in the trash believing the score would be very low, and he wanted to avoid the humiliation.
After several days Joe’s mom finally opened the envelope. Much to her shock, Joe scored a 1480 on the SAT. A score of 1480 is in the top 2% of all scores. Joe’s SAT scores guaranteed him a shot at college. Joe’s mom was sure he cheated, however Joe assured her that he wanted to cheat, but he couldn’t.
Joe’s whole attitude toward school changed. Joe truly believed he was smart. He began showing up for class prepared to learn. He participated and studied harder than ever. Joe graduated high school, attended a local college for a year and eventually entered and graduated from Harvard University.
Twelve years later Joe was a successful businessman making a lot of money. However, that was about the time Joe received a letter from the SAT board. The letter revealed that Joe’s SAT score was a mistake. Twelve years earlier when Joe took the SAT, thirteen people received the wrong scores and Joe was one of them. Joe actually scored a 740. Yes, 740!
After Joe shared this news with a friend, his friend said, “okay, but Joe that 1480 score changed your life.”
Joe responded, “no, the 1480 score did not change my life. When I started acting like a 1480 score person, that’s what changed my life. I stopped acting like a 740 score and began acting like a 1480 score, and then I started to think like a 1480 score person.”
We often say that thinking precedes behavior, and it does. Proverbs 23:7 states, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” But often we allow our feelings to dictate behavior. Joe always felt like a 740 SAT score person, therefore he acted like a 740 SAT score person. However, Joe changed his behavior. Joe believed he was more than a 740-score person (even if he really was). Joe believed he could be more, therefore he acted accordingly.
Often, we need to start behaving as to what we want to be. We need to carry ourselves professionally, even if we don’t feel like it. We need to treat people with kindness even if we don’t feel like it. We need to give life 100% even if we don’t feel like it. I need to love and respect my spouse even if I don’t feel like it. I need to work hard at a job with a great attitude, even if I don’t like the job.
We simply cannot let our negative thinking dictate our behavior. Quite often, we need to make sure our actions change our negative mindsets. Negative thinking can be four times more powerful than positive thinking if we let it run away with our minds.
My SAT score was 1000. The challenge is to act like a 1480.