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  • James McNeil

What it means to pay early rather than late

You either pay going in, or you pay going out.

Many years ago, I took a class at Alamance Community College taught by a man we came to know as Mr. Al. Mr. Al taught Business Law classes as well as a few other topics related to business. On the first day, while going over the syllabus, he informed us of a unique grading process. In his class, there were four tests, and students were required to take three. If we took all four, then the highest three grades would be used. If we were happy with our grade after the third test, we would not be required to take the fourth. Likewise, we had the option to submit three of the five written assignments for the class. Once we were happy with our written assignment grade, we would not be required to continue submitting assignments.

On the first day, Mr. Al told us that there were always people who heard the “you only have to take three tests” rule and skip the first test. He strongly advised us not to do that because the later tests would be harder.


It was not surprising to see that at large portion of the class skipped the first test. Nor was it surprising to see many of the same students skipped the first writing assignment.

Just as these students found the tests got harder as the semester went on, I have seen this principle in action in my life. The longer, I would wait to tackle the obstacles that led me to two suicide attempts and almost a third one.

In September 2017, I came to realize how important it was to face these obstacles and overcome them while they were manageable. Am I always successful? No, I am not. There are good days and bad days, just as we all face. However, I have learned my lesson.

We can either use tools like Finding Your Personal Mission to face obstacles like impostor syndrome, anger issues, and others while they are manageable, or we can wait until they are out of control.

You either pay going in, or you pay going out.

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