Perfection

By: Angry Old Man

I remember when one of my former students returned to visit me.  After chatting for a while I asked her, “What could our school have done to prepare you better for college?”  Her answer was you needed to teach me how to fail!  Her answer totally took me by surprise, but now upon reflection I understand what she meant.

The research shows that there is not a strong correlation with academic excellence and career success.  Now it is true that your academic record might open a few doors for you when you apply for your first job but after a few years it has little bearing on your career success.

Karen Arnold found in her research of Valedictorians that even though they were successful they were not usually people who reached the top of their fields (more).  That people who received straight “A’s” were often conformist and that what was needed in industry was originality.  That the “A” students settled into and did fine in their career choice, but they were not likely to be the type of person that shook the industry up.

That to be at the top of your industry you need to take risks.  That students who strive to be number one or perfectionist usually are not taking risks for they fear that they will fail. So, we are teaching them and rewarding them to play things close to the vest and not to rock the boat.

That one of the problems of being perfect in school is that you did not have to realize how to deal with failure.  How to fall like a six but rebound like a ten.  That what my student was telling me is that high school needs to be a place where students take risks and learn how to rebound from setbacks.  That at the high school age many students have good support systems which will help them rebound from these slight failures.

So,  if you are struggling with something right now, that is okay.  Learn from your struggles as it is probably preparing you for future success.

Originally posted here: https://psychologyeconomics.blogspot.com/2018/12/perfection.html

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