The Danger of Academics-Come-First

The Danger of Academics-Come-First

Dec. 20 , 2019

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Over the years, a lot of parents and kids have come to me for help with their goals.

In our interviews, they would always say that they are willing to put in the time and resources to achieve a goal of a full college scholarship (or trying to play the pro tour).


And then they’d drop the hammer.

“But academics come first.”

Uh oh.

While there’s nothing wrong with putting academics first, per se, as soon as they said this phrase, I knew it was over.

The tennis goals would never be achieved.


Because we can’t have one goal be our number one priority while another mindset is actually the number one priority.

Here’s what I mean.

To be an elite player, you need to play 18-30 tournaments a year.

There’s no good way to get around that.

You need a ton of events to figure out how to handle pressure and also the chance to get a lot good wins.

Theoretically, it could be done in 6-8 tournaments, but that’s not how it goes in real life. In real life, you need triple that.

So, guess what happens to the player that says, “Academics come first”?

Academics become the roadblock that makes them fail.

A kid can’t play tournaments in the summer because of an engineering camp.

A kid can’t play tournaments in the fall because of school committees.

A kid can’t play tournaments in the spring because of AP testing.

They said they wanted to be elite. But the academics-come-first mindset is exactly what stops them from becoming elite.

Our brains listen to everything we say. If we say two things that conflict, neither one will come true.

Every priority must work together.

It’s okay to get good grades. It’s the “come first” that’s the problem.

A player can be elite, for example, if academics “come also”.

Granted, it sounds more noble if we say grades come first.

But the goals will actually be achieved if we don’t say it.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.