Dont Sprint The Marathon Summarised


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A nice book on the typical mentality of the Indian parents to push children to excel at academics right from the early years of their life. The author clearly highlights the perils of such shortsightedness while lashing out at the fallacies built within our education system. The difference in the capabilities and training of a sprint racer and a marathon runner is brought out well. The text also debates whether competition at all helps in an individual's learning.
The book cites several examples of people who have done very well in life while in fact they have been rated mediocre or poor throughout most of their childhood by our education system.
The author makes a bold statement but tends to repeat a tad too much. The presentation lacks brevity. Other than that, it is a good read

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Dont Sprint The Marathon Summarised

  1. 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book Dr. V. Raghunathan’s “ Don’t Sprint the Marathon” by Ramki Ramaddster @
  2. 2. V.Raghunathan’s first career was an academic- as Professor of Finance at IIM- Ahmadabad for nearly two decades, until early 2001. His second – a corporate one- started in 2001, first as President , ING Vysya Bank for four years and then with GMR Group- an infrastructure major. He is currently CEO, GMR Varalakshmi Foundation . Also since 1990 he has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Bocconi, Milan, lecturing on behavioral finance  Has published over 400 academic papers & popular articles & six books  Author of the best-seller ‘ Games Indian Play’ – why we are the way we are ( Penguin 2006)  Stock exchanges, Investments & Derivatives ( Tata McGraw Hill 2007 )  Writes in guest column in ET , Mint and is a busy public speaker  Has probably the largest private collection of old locks in the country , a cartoonist with a national daily, has played chess at all India-level About the Author
  3. 3. As proud & ambitious parents, we often push our children to excel in ways that may help them achieve some early successes- but may sap their stamina to endure the more difficult challenges which life may throw at them. What is more, our obsessive rush to get our children off to a good start overlooks at the fact that in life, as in a marathon, an early lead hardly matters, but being too intent on coming first may leave our children lacking in many of the life skills that a normal childhood would teach them. Success depends on attitude to life which is develops over the years, which is more than a good start, more than being from an ivy school, more than an early launch pad Happy Reading Prelude
  4. 4. “I was running the city marathon. As soon as the race began, I found myself the last of the runners. It was almost embarrassing. The fellow just ahead of me wisecracked, “ Hi there! What is it like to be the bottom of the heap?” I replied “ you really want to know ?” and dropped out … by Anonymous 2 If Life is a race
  5. 5. If Life is a Race…. You push yourself If you are like most people, you probably expect a lot from yourself You push your self  Hard to stay ahead- Professionally, Socially & perhaps every which way  First one to get promoted, best rating the company year after year  Wanted coveted posting  Cannot take the delay of promotion  You do not recall when you spent a whole day with your family  You don’t remember when you helped a less fortunate man on the street
  6. 6. If Life is a Race…. You happen to be a parent You expect no less & probably more from your child Want to be prouder parent if your child were among the top performers in the class & outside it Tacit expectation of your child that he will top at everything & crack that mathematic Olympiad & captain the school cricket & football team Over & above this, he would also win the spelling bee, and maybe also walk on WATER You drive your kid from school to tuitions to swimming classes to tennis lessons. Organize the kid’s summer vacation meticulously Compare the kid favorably or unfavorably to other kids
  7. 7. If Life is a Race…. An assumption  It needn’t be, it shouldn’t not be and it isn’t  If so why most educated parents make their kids  Hop tuitions before & after school  Want to solve the question paper all over again at home  Expect them to top their class year after year  Acing any competition they enter  Make them run for swimming classes to tennis to cricket  Peg their all hopes on 3 letter national entrance tests as a good start of life  Oprah Winfrey – famous talk-show host & also a Marathon finisher, maintains “ Running is the greatest metaphor for life “ Oprah was referring to the metaphor of running marathon & not the sprint
  8. 8. If Life is a Race at all , it is a Marathon , not a Sprint  If life is a race at all – is this way to run ?  Most of us are in great rush  Often unclear about where we are headed  We do this frequently & also with our children  We rush, we rush them – not exactly knowing where we headed & why Near universal agreement that life, taken as a whole, mimics a Marathon a lot more than sprint Then What are the chacteristics that distinguish a Sprinter from a Marathon runner
  9. 9. “We are different , in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon” – by Emil Zatopek 3 Sprint Vs. Marathon
  10. 10. Sprint Marathon Sprint vs. Marathon
  11. 11. Short run- Sprint vs. Long run- Marathon  Sprint short run typically under 400 meters  Marathon long run – 26 miles and 385 yards
  12. 12. Flat & straight stretch vs. A twisting & turning track with ups & downs
  13. 13. Sprint -Strength vs. Marathon -Stamina A sprint may last a few seconds . A Marathon may take a few hours Respiratory, Cardiovascular and musculoskeletal make-up of sprinters & marathon runners are entirely different A Sprinter is rather muscular and built strongly for power A Marathon runner is typically skinny or lean and built for stamina & endurance The former is built for rapid burning of calories and latter for slow burning of calories
  14. 14. Sprint – Energy vs. Marathon- Mental toughness Sprinter needs energy & it is all about action. There is little time for a sprinter to use his head. Think with his legs & not mind – Maximum possible burst of energy in a minimum time Marathon runner is all about mental strength. Many runners “ hit the wall” when bodies ‘ run out of gas’ . This is when he switches from legs to mind . Spreads his energies evenly. Does not mean sprinters do not have strong minds, Strong willpower, endurance, the never –say- die attitude, patience, timing, mind over body plays a strong & a more sustained role for marthoners
  15. 15. Paavo Nurmi -Finland National hero of Finland who set in his time 40 World records  Won nine gold medals & 3 silver medals in the Olympics from 1920 to 1928 in 12 events  He said “ Mind is everything: Muscle – Pieces of rubber “ All what I am, I am because of my MIND
  16. 16. Jacqueline Gareau  1980 Boston Marathon Champion  “ The body does not want you to do this . As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong”  You must handle the pain with Strategy  It is not age; it is not diet, It is the will to succeed  General S.Patton of US army – 1912 Pentathlon Olympian “ You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the Body is never tired if the mind is not tired”
  17. 17. Sprint – A rush of speed vs. Marathon- Strategic persistence
  18. 18. Sprint – Visible progress vs. Marathon- Not-so-visible progress Sprinter’s progress through the race is visible to the most casual observer. Within seconds of the start, it is easy to tell the likely winning  Marathon runner, it will not be clear who the winner will be. Being ahead of another runner for most of the race hardly implies that the one ahead will necessarily also finishes ahead In fact, there may be little correlation between being ahead very early in the race & being the final winner
  19. 19. Sprint – End vs. Marathon- The path Sprinter is unwaveringly focused on the finishing point every second of his dash Finishing post is his sight every moment & straight ahead all the time There is no particular fun in the process of running per se, there is nothing to enjoy en route , except a rush of wind on his face Marathon runner, for most of the race, needs to focus only on his trail and not the finishing post The trail is beautiful, by itself could be a source of enjoyment as well He can take that breather en route, or slow down for a drink of water Finishing line it is never in sight , until he is almost there , though he knows broadly where he is headed
  20. 20. Sprint – Winning vs. Marathon- running the course  For Sprinter finishing first is all that matters  There is little consolation in merely completing the race  The joy comes out of winning & not merely running For a Marathoner his great source of satisfaction comes from having endured the distance & bettered his own time The experience of running & finishing the marathon successfully can be its own reward
  21. 21. Sister Marion Irvine At the age of 54 qualified for the 1984 US Olympic Marathon trials at 2 hours and 51 secs.  Calls the marathon a more or less spiritual experience “It is elevating & humbling at the same time. Running along a beach at sunrise with no other footprints in the sand, you realize the vastness of creation, your own insignificant space in the plan, how tiny you really are…..”
  22. 22. Sprint – Competing with others vs. Marathon- Competing with Self  Sprinter is constantly focused on others , lest they outrun him  If he finds someone gaining on him, he strains that much extra to remain ahead  It is comparison with others that guides his run  He is externally driven  Because of distance is as much a race against oneself as against competitors  Focusing on self to better his earlier timing  He wills himself to continue when his entire body rebels against continuing  His relative position against the competitors is largely irrelevant to him
  23. 23. Sprint – Start vs. Marathon- Finish For a Sprinter a good start is more crucial His take posture & timing has to be just right The micro-second advantage take-off timing off the block is very crucial to success  A bad start almost invariably spells the disaster in the race  Well begun is half-done  Good start is practically irrelevant  Keeping a steady pace, he hardly needs to worry about anything else, until he is very close to finish  All’s well that end’s well
  24. 24. Sprint – Competition vs. Marathon- Camaraderie  Normally run for causes & attract amateurs in large numbers – fun & revelry  It is not unusual to see tens of thousands of people running a marathon for a cause  Often the atmosphere is of camaraderie & amity  In short running a marathon calls for optimizing across several characteristics , while sprint is essentially calls for maximizing the speed How do we prepare ourselves or our child to run the marathon of life ?
  25. 25. 4 Child The Parent of man
  26. 26. A person who has put India’s Pharma industry on the Global map Son of fairly well-to-do turmeric farmer from a village Tadepalli – A.P He studied in a local school before moving on to a Junior collage in Guntur & an average village boy He scored 59.16 % in the State board & then went to Andhra Christian college in the same town for B.Sc. In Chemistry. Unsure of his performance dropped out to appear again in supplementary. The only anxiety Dr.Reddy’s parents even showed was to move Anji to his Grand Ma’s place for his primary schooling – due to the reason his father did not want the 8 year old child crossing the Krishna river every day . Anji was fairly mischievous with whole lot of friends , often cutting school prayer to indulge in some prank with his friends Dr.Kallam Anji Reddy- Dr. Reddy’s Labs
  27. 27. Remarkable about him – Sharp memory and general reading He had a wide circle of friends whom he was genuinely fond of & spent most of his time with them He is not a sprinter by far shot His love of languages came handy – combined his language skills & some “ smart working” helped him getting through the exams With his PhD – Joined IDPL in 1969 – 6 years learning bulk drug manufacturing led him to explore drug making by himself 1976- Dr.Reddy founded his first company –Uniloids Ltd 1980 set up the Standard Organics and the flagship of Dr. Reddy’s lab in 1984 Became the first Asian company every outside Japan – list on the NY stock exchange Dr.Kallam Anji Reddy- Dr. Reddy’s Labs
  28. 28. Dr. Reddy did not have a grand start in life Did not start the life from city He wasn’t a conventionally brilliant student Did not study in a fancy school , college or university First job was not with an MNC He did not job hop Concentrated on learning the ropes Enjoyed every act of reading Jogged along at a steady pace, took time to reflect & timed it well Dr.Kallam Anji Reddy Well then, don’t you need to know yourself better so that you can get yourself, or if you are a parent, your child, in better readiness to take on life ?
  29. 29. 5 Developing the right attitude to life “If you are running a marathon : “ Set your own pace. If you black out fater five minutes, you are probably running too fast. If a workman from the city comes by and paints you green, you may be running too slow.” – A Jogging tip
  30. 30.  A Child Good grasp on subject Ability to internalize it and application to life Unable to reproduce or vomit the book during examination, which may compromise the grade OR  A Child That can pick up subject superficially Have an excellent short term memory & reproduce the subject Score the highest grade Often As parents , we want the first option But end up promoting the latter option in our kids Are we hung up on examination performance ? Do we regiment our lives & also those of children We expect from Children, what we failed to achieve ourselves Bringing up Children
  31. 31.  Well begun may be half done-more so in a dash  Need for the long-distance runner not to start with a fracture or sprained ankle  Average start is good enough  Same thing with Children – reasonably a good performance in school , well adjusted, takes a healthy interest in everything , enjoys the school, fond of teachers  High social confidence & trust  Shaping a Child’s personality  Parents to be a marathon coach & not a sprint coach  Need for us to understand certain basic differences between long-term & short-term orientation in life  This will help us to shape own life & Children’s attitude to life  Desire to excel  This is not right to say that a desire to excel is not a desirable trait to impart  The excellence should come more from the desire excel one’s own performance rather than competing against others  Prepare children for success & excellence in life Bringing up Children
  32. 32.  Thomas Wolfe – American novelist  “You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity ! “  Money , fame or power are consequences of Success and not goals of success  What does the success mean ?  Making as much money as possible  About being as famous as possible  About being as powerful as possible  Paris Hilton is famous  Do we want our daughters to adopt her as a role model ?  Can she be really called successful , even if she is well known ?  Can her lifestyle be a route to anyone’s happiness  Is happiness key to success or success the key to happiness Successful life
  33. 33. 6 Can ordinary walkers Jog ? I don’t make deals for the money, I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it – Donald Trump
  34. 34.  T.Raja popularly known as Auto Raja  Founder & Secretary of New Ark Mission of India  This is dedicated to rescuing & rebuilding the lives of destitute & dying people on the streets  His father was a telephone linesman & did not get the right parental love  Took Stealing , drinking & gambling at very young age  Ran away from home & lived on streets for two years  Raja decided to work for his basic needs & used drive auto & taxis Auto Raja- Founder of New Ark Mission  He also served as body guard & as a hit man in the auto union  He wanted to dedicate his life to help the dying& destitute people on the streets  He set up New Ark Mission for helping these people  Today he is joined by his wife & three children on the mission  In the last 13 years their mission has rescued over 3000 people from the streets of Bangalore – 1300 died a peaceful death , loved & cared for  700 were reunited with their families Is this person not successful in his life ? – Surely – it is the will that makes it
  35. 35.  Subash –Anubhav  Left formal schooling at the age of 11  He worked on the Delhi platforms on odd jobs & domestic help  He went through Kaleidoscopic experiences- from distress to excitement  Experienced hungry days & nights  His core was touched by Philanthropist couple-Jacob & they taught his to read at home  Then he worked with various NGO’s helping street children in Delhi  Today Anubhav reaches out to about 800 runaway & street children in Delhi & Haryana  V. Mani – Retd AGM of RBI  Set up SOCARE ( Society’s care for the Indigent in 1999)  Helping the life convicts children through this- providing food , shelter & education  Mani & his wife play a parental role for these children  Kishore & Karunashrya  Mahantesh & Samarthan – Trust for disabled  Ashish Goyal Some Ordinary people So how do we instill such values in our children?
  36. 36. 7 Let Children grow in their own time
  37. 37. An Olympian, Asian & National top athlete Excelled in 100, 200 & 400 meter sprints One of the fastest Indian runners & came from an average middle class family Early schooling in Kolkatta in bengali medium She , her mother and elder sister moved to Bangalore in 1975 at the age of 8 House was near Kanteerva stadium & her mother ensured that the girls spent their evenings in the stadium Mr.Gill India’s leading triple jumper spotted her talent and helped her train & she became an easy winner at school level events In her high points in her career- representing India in Olympics & also beating the legendary P.T.Usha & winning Arujn Award Today she is a mult-faceted individual – A former top athelete, a former actress, committed social worked and now an educationist Ashwini Nachappa
  38. 38. 8 Schooling, work life & Competition
  39. 39. A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy on “ Success”
  40. 40.  What attributes do you think portend “Success” in life ? One who is enthusiastic, Optimistic, Committed , disciplined, aspirational Given to excellence in whatever he or she does  These applies to all vocation chosen Cannot be one –dimensional & reasonably expect to be successful A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy
  41. 41. What is your idea of success for a youngster ? At broader level- any one who can bring smile on people’s face when he or she walks into a room This may be because of the quality of the work your do, your value system or commitment to the society  It does not matter what you do for a living –Plumber, a Soldier, Policeman, Politician , Civil servant , businessman or whatever  Teaching wonderfully leaving the work area clean after an expert job A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy
  42. 42. How do you compare the importance of academic performance of growing children vis-à-vis other skills necessary in life to be successful ? One dimensional skills will not help in shaping a complete individual A youngster who is purely academically bright , but lacks in social & people skills, confidence, enthusiasm and discipline may get that first premium job , but keep that , and do well in a career , the person will need all other attributes Academic performance is one attribute of success Overall development is the way for success A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy
  43. 43.  What do you think hampers parents & youngsters alike, taking the wider view of success and careers ? Partly it is our colonial background & partly our caste- ridden biases that makes us look at some vocations as being lower than others An average middle-class parent cannot think of their child becoming a successful plumber or a carpenter. Any successful individual will tell you , all skills at the highest level become equally worthy A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy
  44. 44.  Do you think with increasing choices available today, a shift in the mindset of the parents & the younger generation may be happening after all ? Today younger generation has many more options than a generation ago The mindset of parents us yet to catch up with the reality unfolding before us  Today excellence in any field is waiting to be rewarded In free market , there are no castes There are only two castes Smart, Sincere, Committed & Hardworking Idle fellows A talk with Mr.Narayana Murthy
  45. 45. 9 Get interested in reading
  46. 46. Reading provides for continuing education whether rich or poor , employed or unemployed , royalty or pauper Parents are the role model for children – if they do not see parents spending any time ever in a bookshop or library, reading books, it is less likely the kids will learn to make reading a habit. This also applies to professionals – smile and shoeshine may be useful , but without reading there is no learning Reading
  47. 47. 10 Schooling, for Mediocrity The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were on unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called education. School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you and industry can’t take you -by John Updike
  48. 48. By encouraging children to read , desire to know , to learn & to find out Instilling them a love of learning  What they want to learn  When they want to learn  How they want to learn  Pace that suits them best Allow sufficient autonomy to the child for reading , unless something which truly unhealthy Learning is something children do, NOT something done to children Provide an environment which is conducive for learning From teaching to learning What can Parents do
  49. 49. Mr.G.M.Rao
  50. 50.  A person who all his life competed only with himself  Probably learnt much more from life than from school Born in 1950 in Rajam – Srikakulum district of AP , third among the seven children  An average middle class family – Parents having small gold & trading business  Clearly the boy had far from a grand starting point  Early schooling was in government school – a local Telugu medium institution  Fairly a bright & active boy, albeit somewhat naughty  Neither excelled in Telugu nor English  The boy failed his SSLC exams & father made his peremptory declaration – “ No further studies”  At this crucial juncture in his life came a remarkable teacher – Damiri Venkata Rao – who motivated him to complete the SSLC  Worked hard and passed SSLC 422/500 – 84.4 % G.M.Rao- He who learnt from his failures
  51. 51.  Rejected by Loyola college – Vijayawada, he went to a college in Bobbli for PUC  Worked hard & topped the college PUC with distinction  Obtained 12th rank in provisional selection for BE – Andhra University  Did well in academics & would help his friends in whatever way possible.  This popularity drove him to contest college elections to become Secretary G.M.Rao- He who learnt from his failures  Through all this, one characteristics remained, a large circle of friends & he was a people’s person  Mastering the art of “ Making friends & influencing people  First failure as an adult – unable to bag the A.P scooters agency for vizag  Second failure – buying out an oil mill – sales tax problems – leased out the mill & trucks  Interviewed by a ferro-alloy company for a job – he was rejected
  52. 52.  To consolidate our findings  Not a spectacular start in life  The boy came from a rural background – educationally backward district  Family indifferent to academics  Went to an unknown school & experienced little discipline or control at home  No clarity on what he wants to do  Flip side  Fundamentally nice and responsible youngster  One who is very bright & strong sense of adventure  One who is not easily fazed by failure & one who is made by his failures  Sustained hard work ( is an act of faith) & people’s man  One who is never wanting in efforts  One who is not infallible , but is quick to get up & move on  GMR is still a learner & a man of detail  Never competed against others G.M. Rao
  53. 53. 11 If you could mail- order your child You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around- and why his parent will always wave back -by William D.Tammeus
  54. 54.  A thinking & questioning child – not examination oriented  Or one who would read up without questioning & reproduce the correct answers & top the class  In the long run – the thinking & questioning kid is bound to be the winner What do you want your child to be ?  The best – Thinking & Questioning with exam orientation  The problem is, the two traits do not always coincide
  55. 55.  India’s education system rewards regurgitation more than it rewards reasoning  It rewards memory more than analysis  Conformity more than innovation  Mediocrity more than acumen Our Education system
  56. 56. low low high high Responsivenss Demandingness AuthoritativeIndulgent Uninvolved Authoritarian Parenting style- Four types
  57. 57.  Should this be indulgent, authoritarian, permissive, authoritative or uninvolved ?  Should this be of a marathon coach or sprint coach ?  Dimensions of parenting  Disciplinary strategies  Warmth and nurturance  Communication styles  Expectations of maturity & Control Parenting style For your to think How to identify the threshold or cutoff between a healthy and unhealthy level of parenting involvement? Which parenting style is the best? Can this be situational ? What role culture plays in the relationship between parenting style and children’s well- being?
  58. 58. 12 School them Young? You send your child to the schoolmaster, but it is the schoolboys who educate them -By Ralph Waldo Emerson
  59. 59. The Youngest Mozart- Started playing the keyboard at age of 3 & composing music at the age 5 Pascal- Written a treatise on vibrating bodies at age of 9 Shirley Temple-Won a special academy award at 7
  60. 60.  Often we hear , get impressed & proud of  The youngest graduate  The youngest Grandmaster  The youngest Cricketer  The youngest President  We believe being youngest is also as means getting a head start in life & highly desirable  It is true the genius of child prodigies may often manifest very early in life  The reverse is not necessarily true. Somehow doing things early , one does not become child prodigy The Youngest
  61. 61. 13 Reaching out to children To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to. By Kahlil Gibran
  62. 62. Likes of Children & What works on them Children As a rule, prefer games, Plan and hands on task over studies They mostly live in present They are curious about a wide range of things Indirect influences are more likely to work on children Children aren’t afraid of working hard
  63. 63. Dislikes of Children & What will not work on them  Children  Dislike excessive words Deep fear -Dislike examinations , since this will evaluate them  Has an inbuilt fear of failure Pushing them hard for a better future goes against the grain of childhood Dislike concentrating on a narrow range of activities Forcing them into regimented extra curricular activities – against the grain of child hood Excessive discipline stunts their imagination & mental growth Putting down children severely for their failures rarely works in the desired direction
  64. 64. Ms. Ela R.Bhatt
  65. 65.  From an enlightened middle- class family in Surat.  Father –successful lawyer & Mother was active in women’s issue  Ela never topped her school or college  Might have been in the top of 10 percentile  Never unduly pushed in driving herself very hard  Overall value system was shaped by her highly principled father  As child she developed sense of fairness & highly sensitive to any form of exploitation of the underprivileged  After a brief career in Government, she took it upon herself to found SEWA Ela R.Bhatt
  66. 66.  Ela is the founder of SEWA ( Self employed women’s Association) has a membership of 6,87,000 women  The members are  Vegetable & garment vendors  In-home seamstresses  Head loaders & Construction workers  Bidi roller, Paper pickers, Incense stick makers  SEWA is the largest organization of its kind for poor working women in the sub-continent  Ela became a founder member of “ The Elders” – along with the likes of Nelson Mandela & Bishop Desmond Tutu to tackle some of the most challenging problems in the globe Ela R.Bhatt- SEWA
  67. 67.  Her life’s work would earn her a  Ramon Magsayaay award  Honorary doctorates from Harward & Yale  Padma Bhushan  Membership of the Planning commission  Rajya Sabha membership  These milestones are just happened as she ran the Marathon in pursuit of her mission  None of these marked the destination of Sprint Ela R.Bhatt- The Power of Value
  68. 68. 14 The Last word
  69. 69. Some Great Marathoners
  70. 70. The Last word  Take a long-term view of life whether one is a child, a parent or a professional  Sprint may teach you how to buy; Marathon will teach you how to build  Sprint may motivate you to take ; Marathon will teach you how to give  Sprint may be about how to win; Marathon will probably also about how to lose  Sprint may be driven by desire to be ahead of others; Marathon is about being ahead of oneself  Sprint may make you rich; Marathon will make you a person of substance  Achievement means different things to Sprinters vis-à- vis Marathoners  Achievement in sprint is about winning , where as in Marathon it may be more about completing the course itself