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WHEN GRADES HARDLY MATTER

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I am one object, who for years, have been particular about what you score and the grades you get. For decades, this has been my mindset – in my opinion, those with high scores are the most intelligent, and of course, they are, by educational assessments. So when I was told to do an assignment recently, my determination was to do it to an A grade, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – there’s everything wrong with a mediocre performance.

In my assignment, I read probably, over a hundred articles, journals, including a book. I was happy with myself that I put in all the hard work necessary for the score I wanted, but after that, I became nervous. “What if the assessor doesn’t perceive that I’ve done enough to merit my expectation?” that was the question on my mind. As I began ruminating on that question, it was like a scale fell off my eyes when from my inner being, I heard, “Life isn’t about what you scored, but what you do with what was scored.” Mind you, it didn’t say what you do with your score, but what you do with what was scored!

A student that scores 50% is considered average, and the one that scores 80% is considered brilliant – by assessment, those perceptions are right, but outside this circle, you’re judged and rewarded by what you do, not what you scored. If a student that scored 50% puts into use, 80% of the knowledge he gained from his score in the real world, he will succeed and become an employer of labour – he will hire his mates that scored 80% but didn’t apply their knowledge in the real world. What rewards you most isn’t what you scored but your application of knowledge, and until we move from the classroom mindset to the real world concept, we won’t be able to understand entrepreneurship.

Of recent, I have been asking myself lots of questions:

“What do people need?”

“How can I offer a solution to what they need?”

“What Apps can be designed to satisfy a need out there?”

“How can I come up with a product or service that’s in the blue ocean rather than the red one?”

“Do I have the ideas that’ll break the ceiling and raise the roof?”

“If I have the idea, do I have the core competencies to bring it to fruition, or do I hire someone to perform the idea?”

These and many more questions have been on my mind for weeks, and will continue to be until I find a destination or a niche, where I have a sustainable competitive advantage.

In 2005, the late Steve Jobs addressed graduating students of Stanford University, and I took lots of cues from his speech. Jobs said he dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, and stayed around as drop-in for another eighteen months. His reason? “After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it,” he said. But he saw the value in one course – calligraphy – he stayed behind to take lessons in calligraphy, and in his own words, “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.” So, I repeat, “Life isn’t about what you scored, but what you do with what was scored.”

You’re not in school to learn everything – you’re in school to learn something, but unfortunately, a lot of people learn everything, and end up not learning something. Because they learnt everything, the employee mentality go with them all their lives, until later in life, only a few find out that they should have learnt something, and for that realisation, some people, after retirement become cognisant about starting their own businesses – almost too late – they used their prime to serve those who learnt something, even if some they served had lower grades in school. Imagine what you’ll achieve if you use a portion of your high grades to do something!

I know that everyone isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship, so when I talk about business, the holistic definition isn’t like owning a shop somewhere – how about having a passion, a uniqueness, identity, definition? And how about not shying away from that uniqueness, but putting it on the frontline where it can be beneficial to those that need it? Your lack of boldness to express your uniqueness is disservice to those it’s meant for – the world needs you.

If you scored 10% in mathematics, and when the subject is mentioned, you get scared, just for one minute, imagine using that insignificant score to teach the under-fives – you may be a better teacher to that age category than someone who scored 90% but can’t handle little kids. Listen, you’re a genius in your own right – the only problem you have is your perception – you’ve used your score to write-off yourself, but you’re wrong. You must look at life from various angles, otherwise, you’ll die in an acute angle, since you think that’s the only one that exists.

Focus on something – stop viewing the whole world as your territory – carve a niche, have a definition, have an identity. Your niche may not make it to the stage – stay backstage, and eat all you can. When we watch movies, we hardly see the producers – the actors get all the media attention, but the producers and owners of the businesses make most of the money. Make all you can out of the little you scored. Take it, blend it, use it!

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Ken is a leadership Motivation, Strategy and Personal Development Writer, Blogger and Speaker. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs. He is also a mentor and published author of several books.

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