Monday, September 10, 2018
Bar results began rolling in last week. Oklahoma results posted on Friday. Bar result day is both exciting and disappointing for me. My emotions yo-yo from talking to thrilled students to discussing disappointment with unsuccessful alumni. The personal stake we take in our students is what makes us successful, but it is also why we feel so much disappointment on an exciting day.
Nike has a famous Michael Jordan ad where he says “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan is famous for being extra critical and focusing on what he missed. He enjoyed his successes briefly, but he dwelled on defeat. Nick Saban, Alabama football coach, is arguably the best college football coach in history. When asked how long he would celebrate his recent National Championship, he said 1 day. After that, he needed to start recruiting and preparing for the following year. Neither person enjoyed their victories.
Anyone can make an easy argument to “be like Mike,” or get ready for the next bar the day after results. February is only 5 ½ months away, and the bar does not wait for anyone. However, dwelling on the disappointment robs both you and your students of the joy of their accomplishment. Many students worked with us from the first day of school. Other students struggled and sought our help 2L or 3L year. Their excitement is worth celebrating. Being a part of their accomplishment is important. They will enjoy their celebration more with our excitement as well. Celebrating the successes will also help fuel us to help more students clear their hurdle. Celebrate with your students more than momentarily.
Celebrating does not take away the disappointment for the unsuccessful students. We can learn from their experience and develop a plan to help them clear the hurdle as well. Their pain is very real and has a significant impact on their future. However, you can make a difference in their life by being ready to lift them up. Lifting up someone else is difficult if we don’t have the emotional strength. Celebrate successes to build strength to help those who need you even more now.
I completely understand the emotional difficulty revolving around bar results. I have to work hard to not take students not passing as a personal failure. It is easy to think about what we could have done different. Suppress those thoughts to celebrate what you did correctly for the majority of students to pass. You can then go back to the drawing board and be both an academic and emotional support for your re-takers. Celebrate success!