Cheating is the Only Way to Succeed

January 8, 2007

When I was in second grade, my best friend Dave Dorey used to get incredibly mad at me whenever we’d have a test to do (usually a spelling or math test – I always was good at adding 2+2 and spelling dog and cat… still am, actually).

So, anyways, I used to annoy Dave to no end when we were doing a test, because I would often lean over and tell him when he had made a mistake on his test. I always was the helpful sort, and I just wanted to make sure that he was doing well – so, I’d help him out by letting him know when he got the answer wrong.

And he’d always do the same thing: he’d make a face, and he’d hiss at me under his breath:


Because, of course, in second grade, that’s what getting the answers from the guy next to you is, whether you look or whether he volunteers. I was reminded of this story when I was listening to Robert Kiyosaki a few weeks ago, and he talked about the school system being incredibly bad at preparing us to have success in the world of business. And I realized that it’s true – the incentive system is completely backwards in grade 2 to the way it is in the real world:

School Rules: The teacher knows all of the answers. You get highly rewarded for having as many of the same answers as the teacher does.
Business Rules: No one person knows all the answers. You get highly rewarded for knowing enough people that you can find the right person when you need an answer.

What was cheating back then has become the way to success. It’s probably the one thing that I’ve learned over the past 10 years – when I came out of school, I thought that being the smartest was going to take me to success. What I realize now is that being smart is always nice, but that it’s being helpful that makes other people want to get to know you, and be willing to give you access to their answers later.

Turns out that I had it figured out in second grade. It just took me a long time to figure it out. Now, I spend a significant part of my time leaning over and trying to help other people pass their tests, and it’s rewarding.

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3 Responses to “Cheating is the Only Way to Succeed”

  1. Alex on January 8th, 2007 4:32 pm

    Your spam filter is a little tight!

  2. Alex on January 8th, 2007 8:36 pm

    At the risk of sounding “me too!” I’ve actually been wondering for a while now why education hasn’t changed towards a more collaborative approach. It would seem to me that in a modern economy, information is easily at hand. Success in the real world is more analysis and synthesis (esp. in the context of a group effort).

  3. Grigor on January 9th, 2007 1:05 am

    I think the key is that more answers you know by yourself more are other people willing to help you. To request a collaboration, a person has to have something to offer first.

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