We all must handle tests—academic and otherwise—and make timely decisions. From a very early age, I learned to make fast decisions because of the uneasy living conditions in which I was raised during the Lebanese civil war.
One such test I recall is when I had an oral exam in Mathematics at the university. All was quiet and normal that day. One after another, my fellow students solved their exercises, passed and went on their merry way. But suddenly and just before my turn arrived, heavy shelling started. It was not very close to the university campus, but I knew that it would reach us soon.
The instructor handed me my exercise and said I had 10 minutes to solve it. I looked at it and in the splash of a moment I found the solution, to his surprise and mine. I didn't know how I managed to solve it that quickly but I was sure of one thing: I wanted to leave that place and get back home as soon as possible. Our house in the Beirut suburbs was scarcely safer than the university campus, but being surrounded by my parents and other loved ones gave a sense of security and safety.
Each one of us goes through different tests in life which are unique and challenging. But such tests have certain things in common. I have learned from the experience of others and would like to humbly offer some tips of my own. In order to be able to deal with crucial tests it is useful if you can:
- Remain calm when put under sheer pressure. Face the problem and never run away.
- Practice and be ready for whatever may happen. Avoid negative thinking and visualize yourself conquering your problems and fears.
- When confronting a fork in the road, it does not matter whether you go right or left. What matters is never to look back and to keep going. Let “forward” ever be your watchword.
- Never despair and remain confident that things will work out one way or another.
- Stay focused and pay attention to what really matters, and ignore any background noise.
- Believe in yourself and know that you are up to the task—whatever it may be.
- Seek advice and surround yourself with people you trust. This is far better than sitting alone with your thoughts, fears and worries.
"An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore." ― Edward de Bono
Image: Standing in the Rain – by Ana Livingston