Certified Beer Server: What Barely Passing Taught Me About Success

Ahh, the colors of fall. A picturesque autumn afternoon bike ride and enjoyment at @confluencebrew.

I’m going to tell you 2 of the most well-kept secrets I have.

1. When I graduated college, I told everyone I had a 3.0 GPA.
Secretly: it was actually a 2.99 GPA. 

2. Ever since high school, I was 6′ feet tall. I had measured myself countless times.
Secretly: I went to the doctor a few years ago, and they measured my height. I’m actually only 5′ 11″ and 3/4’s of an inch. 

There. You know my terrible secrets.

The thought of telling people I had less than a 3.0 GPA in college (the absolute minimum for a former A.P. class, A’s-and-B’s type of student) was unbearable. I was fuming with embarrassment myself when I found out after graduation.

Same for my height. I’m embarrassed to admit, something in my basketball/volleyball/football player mind said that 6′ feet was the absolute minimum a guy should be.

So when I barely passed the Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam (think “sommelier” = wine expert, “cicerone” = beer expert), I was ecstatic I passed (I had been studying pretty heavily for weeks). But, I was reluctant to tell people I could have only missed one or two more answers without failing.

Since I graduated college about 4 years ago, I haven’t had a job interview where my GPA came up. Matter of fact, I don’t think anyone’s asked me that – no mentors, no bosses, no colleagues. I don’t think my test results for this beer exam will come up, either.

What I’ve learned about hiding a secret 2.99 college GPA and telling people (and convincing myself) I’m 6′ tall is this: I don’t think people really care.

I think what people actually care about are results. They care about reliability. About whether or not you can do the job you say you’re able to do.

Barely passing my exam taught me that the road to success isn’t always pretty – unfinished projects, failed attempts, and subpar results are littered across the windy road like the trash in the parking lot after a football game. But that doesn’t matter when you reach the end – what matters is that you finished successfully.

It doesn’t matter that I had a 2.99 GPA and not a 3.0; can I complete these projects with excellence? Can I work harmoniously in a team? Can I get the job done?

It doesn’t matter that I’m a quarter-inch shorter than 6′; can I block a layup? Can I spike a ball over the net? Can I reach up and hand my wife a coffee cup from the top shelf? (Yes, I can!)

And about my beer exam: it doesn’t matter that I didn’t ace the questions. Can I tell a new beer drinker that although Belgian Strong Ales have a pronounced perceived bitterness of 40IBU’s & that their alcohol content is high to very high, they are often times much easier to drink than, say, an American India Pale Ale, also a pronounced perceived bitterness but are far less alcoholic?

Why, yes I can.

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  1. I would get A’s in Spanish, but got a D in English…guess I was born in the wrong country…I should go back and read ‘The Sound and the Fury’ though (from my junior year in high school) instead of just plagiarizing an essay off the internet, oh what tangled webs we weave.

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