Wednesday, April 04, 2018

University Entrance Speech by Asano-san: Lessons Learned

Today, I got one of the best speech I ever heard directly in university entrance ceremony (入学式). It was delivered by the president of my university, Asano-san. Moreover, the president is known in our university by his "Asano vision",  a vision that he brings to "rule" this university.

First things that I caught from his speech is about the feeling of new student entrancing the university. When entering graduate university, there is two type of students: 1) one who wants to take the challenge, 2) another who worries whether he/she can graduate from the university. No matter which type you are, you should do your best to tackle obstacles in the university. Attend all class, never miss one, submit all homework, focus on your research, make it narrow as much as possible, and you will be graduated.

To support this idea, Prof. Asano shortly described the work of Angela Duckworth of University Pennsylvania. It is not diligent or IQ that makes success in life but GRIT: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. An ability to keep hard work. The rule is called 10000 hours rule. The rule implies that 10000 hours of continues effort is the key to success. However, making effort without aims didn't make any significant result. Set the final aim, and divide it into pieces, everyday goal. Reach goal one by one. Grit nonetheless demonstrated the incremental predictive validity of success measures over and beyond IQ and conscientiousness. Collectively, these findings [1] suggest that the achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but also the sustained and focused application of talent over time. Our head (read: brain) has the same capability as Einstein's brain. It depends on us to use it or not to use it. The problem is a will, there is or not, not the capability (can or can't).

The second one is about constant work, be persistent. Asano-san does running for 6 km every week on the treadmill. No matter how busy he is, as long as he can run, he will run. No ambition, no target. He just wants to keep persistent although he will get old and older. He also keeps walking around campus every Thursday, after lunch. The other record is he keeps his weight, every day. Another JAIST professor walks about four kilometers every day after completing the class/lab. He takes the route from the university to the nearest station. For your information, there is a free shuttle bus from university to the station. So, money is not the reason.

The last one is about the self-confident. It is the most important thing in a life. If you have self-confident, how big the task is given to you, you can accomplish it. To maintain a strong will, we need physical strength by physical exercise. Of course, you need to develop your skill. In contrast, although you are a skilled student, if you are not self-confident, you will be in trouble.

Additional reference:
  1.  Duckworth, Angela L., Christopher Peterson, Michael D. Matthews, and Dennis R. Kelly. "Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals." Journal of personality and social psychology 92, no. 6 (2007): 1087.
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