Do You Have an “Exam Attitude”?

Hiya SCG,

Today’s shipment was inspired by a remark done by my Mum few weeks back, when she has seen me reading a book, making notes  and sticking highlight notes on pages with underlined quotes.  She said: “You look like you are having an exam tomorrow.” And that one sentence made me pause and reflect. “Wow, did I look that committed? What are the other activities when I am totally focused and I might appear to external observer as totally obsessed student with exam knocking on a door?” Then it hit me:

Where Did Our “Exam Attitude” Go?

We all can recall our school times, when:

  • we have been giving our best into soaking as much information as we possibly could in order to do well on an exam, right?
  • we were learning something totally new to us every day,right?
  • we felt good when we have gained new insights and could share new ideas with friends or family. Right?
  • we felt even better when we were able to get good marks or the most importantly when we could apply newly acquired information into real life, right?

So, why on Earth did we stop doing it?

Because, we have got our diplomas? Because, we are too old to be students? Because, we have our comfortable jobs, in which we already know what to do in order to be patted by our boss? Because, we are senior managers, who don’t have to learn anymore, there are others for “dirty jobs” like research or analysis…

If you have nodded with agreement to any of these statements, then you have just agreed to be a lifelong FAIL.

Pretty cruel, huh?

So, what to do to get back on track?

It’s Time To Call Our “Exam Spirits” Back from Vacation We Sent It To:

  • It is time to get into the groove with learning again.
  • It is time to shut down all the noise around us and roll up our sleeves, because we MUST get our hands dirty and our brains “boiling”, if we want to ship truly remarkable stuff.
  • It is time to get out of our comfort zones and explore unknown territories.

Because as Seth Godin says: Safe is risky.

Don’t Confuse “Exam Attitude” With Being Good At Standardized Tests, Tough!

That is NOT what I am asking you to do! Standardized test are for compliant “factory workers”, not for creative artists as you are. Learn, dig, connect dots, share, inspire yourself and others – promote yourself to a self-educator and spread this “exam virus on others”, make them stop by your desk and ask you: “Are you having an exam tomorrow or what?”

So, What?

So, What If You Will Choose to Switch Into “Exam Mode”?

The only way how I try to convince anyone for changes in their behavior is by living what I preach and sharing with you what works for me. So, here is an “exam secret” of mine:

The only guarantee I have is that I do ship my art as professionally as I can. It all depends just on me, how I progress or stagnate, how I fail and how fast I can stand up. As Prof. Srikumar Rao says: “Enjoy the process. Don’t pay attention to outcome.” So, instead of hunting approvals or break-through(s), let my style of work and life to be a “TV spot” of what I do and what I stand for.

You Must Become a Self- Proclaimed Lifelong First Grader

I too believe that if you want to be the best in the world in your niche, you have to over commit (I highly recommend you to read the latest blog post by Dan Rockwell about Over Committing). Only your own “exam attitude” will differentiate you from the rest of the world, who is trying to do the same. When others give up and take it easy, it is your chance to learn and grow and get better. When others settle with “I am good”, you keep your beginner’s mind with you and start every day as a 1st grader = curious, excited, scared but yet brave to step into a class every morning…

You Can’t Go Wrong With “Knowing that you don’t know.”

Nevertheless, enjoy the ride!


What about you? When was the last time you have found yourself in a learning “flow”? Are you willing to get back into “student’s shoes” again and not to take them off ever again? Are you willing to make this switch and let go an outcome/reward you will get from your “exam attitude”? Would you consider applying “exam spirits” into your day to day work? Are you OK with having your long term future outlooks totally foggy, but yet still have a drive to overcome short-term discouragements and carry on with over-commitment in your shipping?

Let’s see your answers in comments.

<No marks will be given away for them, tough. So you better just enjoy the process!>


P.S.: Gift for you is list of (y)our 27 songs (which were crowd-sourced in the latest Question Of the Week) on Youtube as Super Cool Gang’s Favorites.


  1. Hi Ivana,
    you just hit the spot! In AIESEC, we have one “change-agent characteristic” that we want the people to develop – it is “Active Learner” – and this is just about it. The life-long learners are the people with most opportunities, IF they are not theoretics. If you can apply, you can win.
    Last time when I got the “exam attitute” actually was when I was doing the last exam 😀 But as well lately when reading your blog, because it is not books, that contain knowledge – it’s people. And thats why now I rather prefer the direct access to the source – talking and discussing.
    I don’t know whether I replied your question, but I think I touched the topic 🙂

    • 😉 Thanks for your words Marek! Indeed, you hit the spot, as I was trying to amplify importance of lifelong learning and I have used a metaphor, which came into my mind, after my Mum’s comment, seeing me to be in the “flow”
      I am delighted to hear that you are considering #IS as one of the sources for learning;-) Yay!

  2. Hi Ivana,

    Just stopping in to leave a word of encouragement. Thanks for all you do.

    Thanks for referring to my blog.


    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak

  3. btw the term “learning” and “exams” in very much a factory process. Acquiring knowledge doesnt necessarily mean learning, in many ways exams is mechanism (litmus test) of ensuring “learning” works. All these are result of standardisation, u could remove these constrains and could enjoy the process of discovery, with no fear of exams, no definition of scope called syllabus 🙂

    • Yes, exams and tests are very much factory terms, but in this shipment I was trying to underline that I am not talking about this kind of “forced” learning, but the moment of inspiration for this post came when my Mum have seen me being in the flow totally enjoying reading, so I did considered it as utterly enjoyable process.
      and after all, there is nothing wrong with studying, being over committed and having things to be read-explored-understood-done lined up, important is that it is what we love to know about, that it is about a topic which bring us into the “flow” that people who pass by, cannot explain it otherwise, than by a remark: “are you having an exam or what?”
      so lifelong learning, foreva! (at least for me, because it is hell of a FUN!)

  4. Tomas Kuracina says:

    Allright let’s have a little fun now, on how I went through my college 😀

    * we have been giving our best into soaking as much information as we possibly could in order to do well on an exam, right?
    NO! I have always learned as less as possible just to get the certain number of points that would be enough for passing, yeah 😀

    * we were learning something totally new to us every day,right?
    OK, I can agree on this.

    * we felt good when we have gained new insights and could share new ideas with friends or family. Right?
    Absolutely NOT! How could I want to share that boring teoretical stuff that no one outside of school would understand? I want to forgot it as soon as possible after the exam, yeah 😀

    * we felt even better when we were able to get good marks or the most importantly when we could apply newly acquired information into real life, right?
    Are you crazy? 😀 “real life” was unknown term in my college, so as practice, funny thing isn’t it? studying automation and robotics and we have NEVER been to any real place, factory or whatever where we would see the real thing..
    In fact there is a famous joke (or sad truth) that what our school gave us is the great ability of googling things and we are geniuses at using CTRL+C CTRL+V, yeah 😀

    So this was a little behind the scenes of my college FEI STU, which reflects the very poor level of educational system in Slovakia. Ivana maybe you can use this as entertaining part in your School 2.0 theme, to show that the goal of School 2.0 is to achieve exact opposite of this 😀 and why we need the change so desperately.

  5. Tomas Kuracina says:

    Now back to topic. I am very grateful that the same year I went on college(2004) I have also started my self learning journey, which literally saved my life. I have become a lifelong learner and this IS the exact opposite of how I described my school experience. So I definitely agree with you Ivana, with this shipment. In fact, in today’s world if you want to be successful, educating yourself is inevitable. And I don’t mean academic education of course.

  6. Trivia exams were apparently invented in Cambridge in 1792 🙂


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eva Fitzelová, Ivana Sendecka. Ivana Sendecka said: shipped: NEW on #IS: "Do You Have an "Exam Attitude"? Do You?;-) […]

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