Training to become a court reporter is so grueling, it’s no surprise that feelings of despair can become overwhelming and the desire to quit can get stronger with each passing day. If you find yourself in this predicament, you have to stop and reassess. Make a deliberate effort to push the negative thoughts and feelings out of your mind and dig deep to find a renewed sense of purpose. Many have come before you, feeling as you do right now, and have found a way to succeed. You can do it too! Remember: This is a marathon, not a sprint.
I am reminded once again of the following quote by the basketball legend Michael Jordan: “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.”
I find these words so inspiring because he actually kept track of the shots he missed and the games he lost. Who does that? What he doesn’t mention in this quote is that he won six NBA championships, was named the NBA Finals MVP six times and its Most Valuable Player five times. He also doesn’t mention the fact that he is a two-time Gold Medal Olympian and the recipient of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has other accolades too numerous to mention, and, oh, he has a hugely successful sneaker line too. Good thing he didn’t let failure define him.
So how did MJ succeed? His next quote might give you a clue: “The minute you get away from the fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.”
This is so true. If you are not progressing as you should, you need to critically assess the three items mentioned above and identify in particular your weaknesses so you can form a plan to eliminate them. All three are integral to your moving ahead.
Regarding your technique, it always helps to return to the basics when you are stuck: deliberate incremental practice, emphasis on error-free writing, and readback. Maybe you need to lower your speed to gain your bearings again. Is a review of your theory in order? Are you tackling those tough phrases or just letting them pass by? I firmly believe that spending two hours working on writing an error-free, difficult one-minute take is far more valuable than spending two hours working on a five-minute take and settling for mediocrity in doing so.
Regarding work ethic, are you committed to a daily practice regimen, a minimum of two hours outside of class, even more if possible? This takes enormous self-discipline, especially on weekends and holidays. Making excuses can be a slippery slope. Don’t allow yourself to skip or shorten your practice sessions. If anything, you should be doing all you can to increase your practice time.
Lastly, evaluate your mental preparation. Are you practicing without interruptions or distractions? Are your electronic devices turned off and put out of reach? Are you in the zone when you practice, giving it everything you’ve got? It takes time to develop the mental stamina needed to concentrate for the interminable five-minute testing takes.
Despite your setbacks, try to stay positive. Keep at it. Don’t look too far ahead; you’ll get overwhelmed. Just concentrate on gaining a couple words per minute a week, and eventually you will get there. You will drop many words and fail many tests along the way, but one day you will “be like MJ” and find sweet victory.