A thin envelope arrived at our house last month addressed to our daughter Jane.
The news was not good.
Not if you’re 18 years old.
Not if you’re original college choice had turned out to be a bad fit.
Not if you had planned for almost a year to transfer to the college you really wanted to attend.
Whenever a letter starts with “After careful review…” the news is often not good.
The words “competitive nature” and “space limitations” didn’t help.
Jane was heartbroken.
Her request to transfer had been denied and there really wasn’t anything she could do but go back to school and try again next year.
All she wanted was a chance to go to the school and plead her case.
But that seemed impossible. Not with all the applicants trying to transfer.
“It’s not over,” I told her. “There’s always a way.”
And we got to work.
We called and emailed. Searched on LinkIn.
We heard one “No” and “Sorry, wish I could help” after another.
And kept asking.
Finally we heard from someone who said they would see if they could help.
Now, lest you think this a story about pulling strings, think again.
The person we found was not some well-connected donor, not some community mover and shaker.
It was our former next-door neighbor who we had learned was an alumnus of the school.
He had no real clout or connections but promised he would email the Dean of Admissions.
Make a heartfelt plea.
It couldn’t hurt.
Within a few days, we received a new letter (in the form of an email from the dean to our neighbor).
It contained much of the same language as the original letter, “limited space,” “strength of the applicant pool,” etc., etc.
The email continued, “Due to the large number of requests we receive for personal interviews, we do not grant interviews. There is not enough time to meet all requests.”
And then the line Jane was waiting for:
“In this case I will make an exception.”
Jane goes for her interview next week. She has 15 minutes. The interview is for admission for the Spring semester.
If I were a betting man I’d bet on Jane.
She has discovered the recipe for overcoming obstacles.
Life is full of obstacles.
We experience them daily in our professional and personal lives
The next time you hit a roadblock try this recipe:
The Recipe for Overcoming Obstacles
• Get busy imagining solutions.
• Consider every idea or option.
• Substitute curiosity for almost every other emotion (especially fear, worry, and resignation).
• Don’t assume an idea won’t work.
• Be bold.
• Be nervy.
• Call people you normally don’t call.
• Ask questions you normally don’t ask.
• Get all naysayers and negative people out of the room and out of your head.
• Move quickly past people who tell you what you can’t do and what won’t work and don’t talk to them again about this particular problem.
• Surround yourself with positive, solution-oriented people.
• Go through each idea until you have exhausted the list of options.
• Then take a deep breath- and come up with more ideas
• Keep doing this until you either run out of time (which will happen sometimes) or have success.
• Repeat as needed.
This was not a story about whether or not our daughter would get into the college of her choice. And that is not the lesson we hoped she learned. What we hope she takes from this experience is when something is important to you, don’t give up.
It’s an important lesson for an 18-year old and it’s an important lesson for each of us.
The next time you are faced with an obstacle, vow to clear the hurdle.
There’s always a way.