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17160 Stephen Kalyta: Mid-term monsters and an altered academic reality

“Mid-term monsters and an altered academic reality”

Article by: 17160 Stephen

Stephen Kalyta

‘Shock and awe’ as a military concept, is generally defined as an overwhelming display of force that renders the enemy in a psychological state of paralysis, such that he/she lose the will to fight. For some, the term of shock and awe rightly describes their reaction to their recent mid-term results.

The shock of mid-terms is so poorly absorbed by the ego (enemy) that you make think this must be Part II of FYOP. I can assure you it is not. Perhaps for the first time in your academic career, you now have your name attached to failure. To turn that temporary outcome into success, you need to find a way to accept and then overcome your academic shortfall.  Action is the universal lubricant to paralysis.

I found great comfort in the company of academic genius’ in my squadron who offered to enlighten me on my shortcomings- as I had many. Equally beneficial were “the coaches” in 2nd year, whom were similarly scarred by their last year’s mid-terms. Yet here they were, somehow, successfully managing the 2nd year curriculum. Alas, I learned membership in the school of failure could be temporary. Take heed, membership is easily renewed, if you do not learn about “YOU” through these failures and take self-corrective action.

Today, I had lunch with an ex-cadet and graduate (97) who had 6 supplementary exams in his First Year. Is he a failure? Hardly. At 43, he is a VP in supply chain, managing one of the largest retail grocery chains in Canada. Along side him is one of my classmates, also a VP with the same company. RMC taught them to persevere, learn from failure, and to not internalize it.

As you read this, remember that how you react to failure, defines your character. How you externalize success, will define your reputation. True heroes emerge out of the ashes of failure, not for public attention but in honor of the cause. Be a hero, stay the course, take a knee if you have to, but never surrender.


  • Graham Keene

    October 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Stephen, super message to those going through RMC and indeed life. It has been my experience that there is little or no direct correlation between academic fluidity and future professional “success”. What matters is just as you stated…it is the true grit that one possesses to get up off that “one knee”, defining your character to move forward through adversity of all manner. I very well remember having to write two supplementary exams in my second year mid terms at Royal Roads. I even failed surveying having being told by my prof I was the only cadet in my year to have done so. I believe I actually broke down into tears feeling like a complete failure. Well guess what… I graduated and went on to have a pretty good career. I have learned life long lessons from my struggles. So to all of you that are feeling the academic pain, don’t despair, just keep moving and keep your chin up. Singing also helps…”Heads up and swing along.”

    Graham Keene

  • Mike Kennedy #12570

    October 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    This is excellent advice which I could really have used right about this time in 1977. It brings a memorable quote from Babe Ruth, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
    Or as we often say in judo, “Seven times fall, eight times rise.”
    I think it is worth remembering that failure – and success – are oftentimes largely illusory, and a matter of perspective. I would suggest that what is far more important in the long run is the significance of what we as individuals and a group contribute to the society around us.
    Well done, Stephen, and thank you.