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10 Reasons Why C Students Are More Successful After Graduation

10 Reasons Why C Students Are More Successful After Graduation

In the late 1800s, schools were designed and intended to teach obedience. During the rise of our industrial age, big corporations needed workers for their factories. The purpose of the academic system was to create obedient and compliant workers who never asked questions. There were already plenty of scholars at the time.

Thus, the creation of the standardized test. Our academic system itself became a factory to standardize all of the rising students to ensure they fit the desired mold. If the student failed the tests, they would be held back another year to try again.

Despite the fact that our world has dramatically changed since the late 1800s, our school systems are structured in the same way. Despite the fact that many of us can connect to the internet, there are 10,000 teachers giving the same lecture on any given day across the country.

The internet has changed the world. If you want to learn something, you don’t need to get an encyclopedia anymore. You can go to Wikipedia, or Youtube, or a million other places online. There are tons of programs that teach people how to learn things effectively at optimal speeds.

The world is moving to an entrepreneurial and innovation-driven economy. It is projected that by 2020, over one billion people will be working from their homes. In the future of work, less people will work for one company as generalists and instead will work for multiple companies as specialists.

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The world doesn’t need obedient and compliant factory workers anymore. The world needs artists, creatives, hackers, and innovators. We’re done with apathetically living out our lives in school and at our 9-to-5 jobs. We’re sick of it. We’re done with it.

And the best part — the new economy wants it as well.

So with this backdrop, we can now examine why C students are generally better off than their A and B counterparts.

1. They question the validity of the academic system

C students are not sold on the academic system. They’re not sold on the factory approach. They see a great deal of good that comes from it, but they don’t worship the system. They see its many flaws.

Furthermore, they know that learning can occur in different ways than the system presents, and that learning can happen entirely outside of the system. Thus, academia is only one approach to learning for C students.

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These students aren’t afraid to challenge the status-quo. Even if it’s uncomfortable to stand out, it’s less uncomfortable than moving forward in clearly the wrong direction.

2. They are not submissive followers

C students think for themselves. They don’t walk between the lines without first questioning why those lines exist. Rather than having someone else tell them how to live their lives, C students come up with their own agendas. They zig when everyone else zags.

3. They are not trying to please and impress their superiors

C students don’t spend enormous amounts of energy trying to impress their superiors. They respect and love their teachers, but they don’t worship them and obey their every request. They don’t see their teachers the guardians of their success. They don’t depend on references or resumés anymore. They realize that in today’s world, their work speaks for itself — it’s online for everyone to see.

4. They have bigger things to worry about

Ironically, if you’re obsessed with your grades, you’re not thinking enough about your future. People who get C’s are more strategic about how they spend their time. While their classmates are putting tons of energy into an arbitrary indicator, C students are actually pursuing their dreams. They aren’t waiting until after school to start living.

5. They have their own definition of success

A and B students seek security externally in the form of “good grades.” However, C students know that security can only really be experienced internally. They know who they are. No external standard of success will ever compare to their own self-awareness and acceptance — they’ve defined success for themselves. They don’t care what the masses are competing for, C students chart their own paths.

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6. They know how to leverage other people’s abilities

While A and B students try to do it all themselves, C students build an army around them of talented people who compensate for their weaknesses. Like Henry Ford, they aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know it all. On one occasion, Ford was being harassed for not being intelligent. In response to an offensive line of questioning, he pointed his finger at the questioning lawyer and replied:

“Let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, why I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

7. They prefer self-directed learning

C students love learning. They just prefer to dictate the direction of their own learning — they don’t want someone else to tell them how to think. They prefer to explore and discover for themselves, to study what they are naturally drawn to. They don’t try to force things, but instead lean into their passions.

8. They’re not perfectionists

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman.

Done is better than perfect. C students understand and live by this. They focus on results and getting stuff done. They know that perfectionism leads to procrastination. They prefer to jump right in and learn through their mistakes, through what the market tells them.

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This is why so many successful entrepreneurs struggled in school. They understand that failure is a beautiful teacher, even though many of them got kicked out of school for failing.

9. They don’t waste energy thoughtlessly

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss teaches what he calls, “minimum effective dose” (MED) — the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Anything beyond that is wasteful.

To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled — higher temperatures will not make it more boiled. If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a melanin response, 15 minutes is your MED for tanning. More than 15 minutes is redundant and will just result in burning and a forced break from the beach.

C students understand this. Their goal is learning. Anything beyond that is wasteful. The energy cost to go from an A- to an A is generally far greater than the actually learning outcome. Thus, it is often wasted energy. C students don’t put more energy into things than they need to. They are efficient, effective, and focused.

10. They are dreamers

While the A and B students are listening carefully to understand what will be on the test, the C students are looking out the window at the clouds and beautiful landscapes. They’ve already gathered the MED of the lecture. Consequently, they’ve freed up several hours each day to dream of a better world. They are thinking about the big things they will do in life. They are working out important problems in their minds.

You think they’re jotting notes from the lecture? Wrong. They are detailing their ideas and plans. When they go home, they’ll do the MED of homework and spend the majority of their time with friends or working towards their dreams.

Featured photo credit: Peelander Z/ Incase via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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