Deal…or No Deal?

My Favorite Domer, home for the Thanksgiving holidays, somehow managed to find time to read a book.

Now this wasn’t just any book. It was a challenge, more or less, a carrot-on-a-string, and you’d have to know that MFD really doesn’t like reading to understand what a huge deal it was.

A few days before the holidays, a BIP (Big Important Person) came to one of MFD’s classes, bringing with him a stack of books. BIP spoke to the group and announced that he was giving away said books to all students wanting to read them. BIP even promised his company would donate mucho-dinero to the college, matched by his own contribution to the university itself, if every student taking a book would read it and e-mail him by a certain date, speaking about what he/she had gleaned from its pages.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Ah, but we’re dealing with human beings here, young adult human beings, for whom nothing is simple.

So MFD took one of the BIP’s books, hauled it home, and read. Pretty interesting stuff, he told me.

Returning to campus, MFD e-mailed the BIP and received a very nice response. However, of the 200 or so students participating in the class, only about half actually agreed to take a book and read it; of that number, just half actually read the book and e-mailed the BIP.

Thus, no monetary donation.

MFD was bummed when he told me this. Bummed he’d spent all that time reading when he could have been working on the multitude of other projects on his plate. Bummed his fellow students would take BIP’s book and not live up to their end of the deal. Bummed the college and the university lost out on all that free cash.

I don’t see this as catastrophic as MFD does. First, no time spent reading a good book is wasted. Second, MFD proved to himself and to BIP that he, at least, is honorable, a man of his word. And third, he doesn’t have to live with the stigma of being one of the students who caused the college and university to lose out on a potential donation.

It’s a good lesson in human nature, too. Too often, we take the easy way out, maybe having good intentions but letting other things get in the way. Then we convince ourselves that somebody else can pull the load (or in this case, nobody else would rise to the challenge anyway).

As Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

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