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10 Reasons Why B Students Are Likely To Be Successful

10 Reasons Why B Students Are Likely To Be Successful

It’s an incredibly ironic belief that straight-A students will automatically be more successful than their B-average counterparts. In this day and age, there are so many stories about people who dropped out of high school or college to become world-renowned entrepreneurs. To be clear, these people didn’t drop out because they couldn’t hack it, but because they saw no point in getting a 4.0 while taking electives they had no interest in. They chose to create their own paths. Most “B students” are really “A students” that have chosen to focus on other aspects of their lives, while maintaining their grades as best they can.

Disclimer: This is no attack on A students — everyone learns and works in their own way. Keep doing what you’re doing!

1. They don’t waste time on frivolous studying

B students don’t love doing homework or studying for exams. Nobody really does, but B students don’t feel the need to make it a priority. Sure, they get it done, and they learn enough to pass the tests, but they also spend time outside the library. B students rarely turn down opportunities to go on adventures or do something fun because they have a project due later in the week. They understand that an impromptu adventure will do more for them in the long-run than remembering dates from a history book.

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2. They focus on other interests

B students are generally quite intelligent. They just don’t feel the need to learn only what their teachers tell them to learn. When they find something that interests them, they will put their all into it. Again, they don’t completely shirk their responsibilities. They’ll learn enough about a subject to pass with a decent mark. While they were earning that B-minus in chemistry, they were busy designing a new computer program, or learning to shred like Jimi Hendrix. You can’t put a grade on that.

3. They follow their passions

Along with having other interests, they don’t let school get in the way of their passions. Many A students graduate having no clue what they even like to do, since they spent four years making the grade to please their parents and teachers. B students, on the other hand, graduate high school with a sigh of relief, knowing they’ll soon be able to go to school for something they enjoy. When B students are able to finally enjoy their studies, something incredible happens: They become A students.

4. They’re more relaxed

B students don’t always need to be the best or get top marks. Yes, they still freak out if they fail a test. But, they don’t set unrealistic expectations for themselves, and are often pretty happy with the results they get. Even when following their passion, they don’t lose their mind when they don’t get something right; they just practice harder for the next time.

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5. They multitask

A students may lock themselves away for hours on end in order to study. B students, on the other hand, study in between reading up on the news, checking on other projects, and generally keeping up with the things that actually interest them. I’m not saying it’s good to have your phone out while you should be focusing on a task, but in most modern jobs you might have to juggle five different priorities at any given time. Being able to wear many hats is a necessity, and B students have practiced doing that for years.

6. They are “Jacks of all trades”

Although many B students have passions and priorities outside of school, many don’t know what their passion is yet. Because of this, they get involved in a variety of areas, testing the waters to see which they like most. In doing so, they often pick up enough to become much more than beginners in a variety of practices.

I’m not the best guitarist in the world, but considering it’s a small hobby of mine, I’m pretty darn good. Same with playing chess, fishing, writing, interpreting literature and poetry — the list goes on. My wife, who is in her final year of optometry school, tells me that a lot of people she’s met throughout her schooling are absolute master optometrists, but don’t have half the amount of knowledge I do about generally everything else in the world. I might not be a master at one thing, but I definitely am well-rounded enough to find a job in a variety of areas.

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7. They’re entrepreneurial

Since they tend to follow their passion, and not just regurgitate what their teacher wants them to say, B students often think outside the box. They see something that can be improved and they work towards doing so. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the practical, critical thinker is usually the one who isn’t afraid to go against the grain a bit. While A students tend to toe the line, B students are the ones asking why there’s a line in the first place. They look at the world from an analytical position, and question policies and procedures they don’t agree with. While A students keep the world moving, B students are the ones that want to change it.

8. They’re easy to relate to

My mother teaches high school English, and this year has had the pleasure of having an absolute genius in her class. As a teacher, she loves it because she sees incredible potential in the young man. The other students, on the other hand, groan whenever he raises his hand, and it most likely stems from the fact that they have no idea what he’s talking about half the time. He’s just on another level. Again, this isn’t a dig at him, as being incredibly intelligent isn’t a bad thing at all. However, there’s something to be said for the people who can take complex ideas and bring them down to earth, so “us normal people” can understand. Being well-rounded and well-educated, while also maintaining a sense of “being real,” takes B students much farther than good grades ever will.

9. They’re realistic

B students are realistic about their goals, their accomplishments, and their abilities. They set goals that are attainable, and continue to set more goals once previous ones have been reached. B students usually tend to downplay their accomplishments. This might be because they know they could have achieved more with a bit more focus, or because they don’t place huge importance on extrinsic rewards. B students know that there are some things they just aren’t great at, and they accept that. By eliminating the drive to be the best at everything, they often excel at that which they wish to excel at.

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10. They are self-defined

B students are not defined by a grade given to them by a teacher who is a master at that specific subject. They define their accomplishments and worth by what it means to them. The grade doesn’t matter — the experience does. It’s incredibly possible that many A students can go through high school without actually understanding anything, simply regurgitating notes the teacher gave them. However, it’s also possible that B students can perform above average most of the time, and earn A’s when they truly comprehend a topic and put their all into it. But again, the satisfaction does not come from earning a higher grade, but from knowing the job was done well.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.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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