Penalised For Asking For Help

At the practical examination I mentioned earlier, I observed that some of the candidates were confronted with something they did not know. One couldn’t get something to work, and so she asked for help. They were actually given the go-ahead according to instructions to ask for help if they were stuck for more than fifteen minutes. Of course, marks would be deducted based on the extent of help rendered. Some may continue to keep quiet and suffer the fate of getting extremely poor marks. It is a calculated decision we have to take sometimes. Two others subsequently asked for identification of materials and help was rendered to them.

What would you do if you were in their situation? It’s just like Asia Amazing Race, where time is precious. Contestants were tasked to dig through an area of sand to look for an object. Despite digging for a long time, some refused to give up. That was because if they had given up, they would have incurred a time penalty of four hours. Probably they thought they could do it within a shorter period of time. One group after searching for an hour decided to give up. A few other groups decided to give up. They were all afraid that if the took the time penalty, it would be disastrous. Unfortunately, for those who carried on, they became extremely tired and exhausted, and still could not find the object until the sun had come down. One group finally gave up after expending a lot of energy and wasted even more time.

In such situations, the stubborn streak might have hindered them from seeking help or taking penalties. It might be useful if time was not a concern, because these are people who would ultimately succeed. If Edison was not such a person, we would not have our light bulbs today. However, this was a contest and time was a key factor. For the examination, time was also a key factor. It was better to lose a few marks than to lose all marks.

In reality, things are not so straightforward. We cannot predict what our competitors may do, but sometimes we have to take a step back in order to go a longer way.