We can all relate to a child’s wonderment; where imagination rules and even mundane objects can bring hours of exploration and intrigue. While watching children discover the world around them has always been endearing for parents, a child’s curiosity also presents an important lesson for those pursuing success: Wonderment brings achievement.

Children are perseverance personified. They can be unwaveringly focused or infuriatingly obstinate without showing fatigue or hesitation. They seem to float from activity to activity with little regard for the outcome. Their lives stand as polar opposites to the frustration, exhaustion, and discouragement many of us encounter in our pursuit of personal and professional success. And time and again we find that children achieve incredible things almost by accident – they speak multiple languages, devise complex stories, construct and climb terrifying obstacles, and show genuine compassion at totally unexpected times.

If ever we wanted an example to model, let me offer children as that model. No, I am not proposing that we stop sharing, throw tantrums, or tell fibs about other children – though I would argue that many business and political leaders do exactly that. Instead I am offering that we emulate the way children imagine, explore and let themselves wonder without the expectation of a specific result. To a child, a toy may look and feel the same way every day but there are no limitations to how it can be used. They may see someone day after day but that does not negate that person’s value. Routine is never routine for a child, and there are endless variations to the standard.

Children do not care about intentions, purpose or utility. To them, every person, moment and object is potentially interesting and worthy of wonder. It is stunning how our perspectives change when we grow up. As adults, we prioritize our lives around intentions, purpose and utility. We choose certain people, moments or objects as worthy of our time and even begin to think that it is the responsibility of others to inspire our sense of wonder. With such selective criteria before we choose to put in effort, how do we ever expect to break free of our current routine?

There are many things that stand between us and our ambitions; we must not let ourselves be one of them. Let wonderment be a tool for change. Explore the world around you with the limitless curiosity and unbiased mind of a child. Even though it may seem hard to change the way you think, remember that you too were once a child. Wonderment brought you to where you are. Let it take you to where you want to go next.



I graduated college with a 2.5 GPA. People who know me are surprised when I tell them my college GPA. I suppose it’s because nobody expects a C-average student to intensely advocate ambition and achievement, have held the keys to nuclear missiles or have spied for CIA. Go figure.

The truth is that my 2.5 GPA haunts me everywhere I go. Even now, 14 years out of college, my GPA is a continual headache as I apply to Graduate Schools around the country. The conversation with most recruiters goes a little like this:

                “Andrew! It was great to get your application – you have a very impressive background!”

Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. I am interested in your Graduate school – can you tell me about your programs?

                “Sure – one small thing first. All of our Graduate programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA. I see from your application you have a 2.53. That poses some problems for us.”

Yes, I am aware that I do not meet your preferred minimum requirements. I was hoping that my professional record and work history would help give a sense of who I am now rather than the student I was 14 years ago.

                “Yes, that does help. Even so, you may want to consider maximizing the GRE or GMAT to offset your GPA. It is difficult to support a candidate with your academic history.”

And so it goes, for about 30 minutes each time, where I try to highlight my real-world achievements and a school administrator keeps reminding me that my ‘empirical scores’ are not well suited to their program. I’ve had 25 year-old grad school interns and 60 year-old admins give me the same speech. I’m beginning to think there is an online training course called, ‘how to deal with empirical dunces applying to grad school’ – the arguments I encounter share much in common.   

While my recent experience is with academia, similar stories permeate American culture. We put so much value in numbers that we often lose sight of the purpose behind why we starting counting at all – to build a better future. Whether it’s a grad school recruiter fixated on a 3.0 GPA, a hiring manager hung-up on an applicant’s years of work experience, or a doctor firing off prescriptions based on partial diagnoses, too often we sideline common sense and current assessment in favor of historic trends. But why?

I challenge that our habitual reliance on numbers is less a matter of preference a more a matter of programming. We live in a world of inputs and outputs. Bank accounts, social media profiles and ‘personal branding’ is at the forefront for most people and requires constant cultivation. We are a culture obsessed with controlling how we are perceived by others rather than simply being who we are. As a result, we lean on past studies and documented trends to guide our current decision making. Consider my graduate school example: I am certain that it was ground breaking when an enterprising scholar in the 1970s identified the relationship between undergraduate GPA and graduate school completion rates. But since then, multiple competing systems have come into play – college rankings, school profit margins, research/grant awards, and many other metric-derived priorities. The original purpose has been so diluted that scientific journals and leading edge companies now REJECT traditional academic ranking altogether as a predictor for future success!

We have the option to build our lives based on where we want to go instead of where others think we come from. It is difficult when we encounter someone who refuses to value our potential over our past. Take heart in knowing that innovators have already started to leave behind notions that the past can predict the future. History is a tool for learning, not a road map for the unknown. I believe I am an excellent candidate for any Graduate Program I choose to attend because I genuinely want to succeed. Any institution that thinks they can predict my success tomorrow based on who I was yesterday is failing to account for today. Your potential is equally as valuable to those who have vision. 


What would the world look like if it was easier to keep trying than it was to give up? The question defies all aspects of logic as we know it because ‘trying’ requires real resources that ‘giving up’ does not require: money, time, energy, etc. Culturally, we as Americans find ourselves forever striving to balance potential cost against potential reward. If the reward is not high enough, if the ‘return on investment’ is not a net gain, then the solution is clear – stop trying. We are expected to know when to hold and when to fold, as one country music legend puts it. Even still, I can’t shake my curiosity for what life might look like, how it might feel, if giving up was harder than trying.

For starters, I imagine the world would have more emotional and community support. Idealistic inventors, artists and world travelers would be lauded for their creativity and ambition and constantly encouraged by friends, family and peers. Cities and neighborhoods would promote local small businesses at a rate that would give box stores and international conglomerate marketing teams a run for their money. Asking for help would not come with feelings of fear, shame, or embarrassment. Instead, encouragement and motivation would be in abundance and defeat and disappointment the rare birds.

If trying were easier than giving up, innovation would run rampant. Life hacks would make headlines and reality TV shows would showcase explorers, photographers, and entrepreneurs. 24-hour news channels would have innumerable stories to broadcast – from local high school students organizing community efforts to Philanthropists funding futuristic experimentation in start-up labs across the globe. People would share mistakes and failures openly, with a genuine interest in seeing someone else succeed rather than quit. Comments like, “I told you so,” and “what else did you expect,” would cease to exist in common dialogue.

If endeavor was a core principle for our society, only the best products and services would be available. Remote software updates would improve product quality instead of fix known bugs; vehicle recalls would be proactive and convenient rather than belabored and burdensome; insurance requirements to protect against negligence or malpractice would be unnecessary.

While I admit that this post paints a flawed and quasi-Utopian image, the exercise underscores to me the need to re-calibrate how we treat ambition and obstacles. Ambition, in and of itself, should be admired. It is not an end, but rather a commitment to a journey undertaken by too few. Similarly, obstacles we face must be challenged and considered with skepticism instead of certainty. Part smoke, part immovable object, any obstacle can be overcome with the right combination of energy, creativity, and confidence.

Me.Now. will forever side with the ambitious and crusade against the obstacles… will you join us?