Storytelling: Michele’s Story of Acing Assignments but still getting graded “B”

I work with corporate professionals on Business Storytelling. So naturally, I get to hear a lot of stories.

However, sometimes I come across a business story that tells me a lot about the teller.  This happens because an incident being narrated exposes the entire fabric of the storyteller’s character. I will share one of these stories with you. This story was told by Michele Lum, a senior leader at a MNC, who told it at a recent project we worked on together.

 Here is the story in Michele’s words.

It was more than 20 years ago, when I was studying at James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia, USA, to pursue a double major in Mass Communications and Dance.

I still remember having to go for an 8.30 AM  weekly dance class in chilly winters. To get to the dance studio, I would have to walk across the campus for 20 minutes. I would literally roll out of bed around 8 AM, get in to my dance attire, winter coat, boots and rush out the door. I would brisk walk and sometimes even run across campus to make it to the class in time. Occasionally, I even slipped on ice patches along the path and more often than not, I showed up 15 to 20 minutes late for the class. Mostly, I would  miss the warm up routine.

This habit of turning up late did not bother me much because I was confident of my dance ability and often received top marks for the graded assignments.

However, when the semester ended, I was shocked to receive a grade B for dance. I asked my teacher, Kate Trummel as to why I received a lower grade, even though I had aced my assignments. She told me something I will never forget. She said, “Whenever you show up late to class, you disrupt the concentration of your classmates. You deprive another classmate of having a dance partner. Whenever you show up late, you show disrespect to me as your dance teacher.”

I was speechless and knew I deserved a lower grade.

I later graduated from JMU with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.475 which is a very high score, having just missed an even higher distinction – Magna Cum Laude by 0.025 points because of the B grade that I got.

Well, that’s not where it ends. A year later, I applied to a Christian Graduate School and the school offered financial aid of 25 per cent to students who met certain requirements. I missed the requirement by 0.025 points. The “B “grade played a role again.

Although, I eventually received the financial aid after much appeal, I learnt a valuable lesson. Show up on time and be present for what I  have committed myself to, because I will never know when not showing up on time and being present might cost me my future.

How could you use this Story? 

You can use this story to teach your team members, your children and may be even your friends the importance of turning up on time. I have a daughter who dances and I am certainly telling her this story.

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