What I have learned is what likely didn't happen to her. She didn't become a millionaire...at least according to the latest study.
But why? Parents tell us that getting good grades was our path to success. Did we miss something? Doesn't success come with money? Apparently not.
- The kinds of skills necessary to get those perfect grades may not turn into cash.
- The "top finishers" do well, but because school demands that you follow the rules and don't shake things up, valedictorians and salutatorians (2nd highest GPA) don't usually go on to change the world.
Eric Barker wrote the book Barking Up the Wrong Tree which is devoted to understanding the science behind success. He came to two conclusions after doing his research:
- "School rewards students who consistently do what they are told.
- Academic grades correlate only loosely with intelligence (standardized tests are better at measuring IQ). Grades are, however, an excellent predictor of self-discipline, conscientiousness, and the ability to comply with rules."
This is a dynamic I encountered many, many times in my practice. Kids with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder were so very surprised when I told them how well they did on IQ tests and then, I explained to them about their executive functioning deficits that frequently occurred with ADHD. That's when they finally understood how they didn't manifest their "smarts" into good grades. They mistakenly judged their intelligence from their grades.
Some of my kids who finished high school by the skin of their teeth became some of the most successful business people I've seen in 20+ years. Years after we had conducted an assessment together, I learned that they finally realized that their skills were not a match for school, but were a great match for the businesses they chose. I loved being able to tell them that they were naturally drawn to work where they could use their skills and which fit their personal talents. Win-Win!!
I've always enjoyed teaching both kids and parents about the concept of "generalist" versus "specialist". From kindergarten through the sophomore year in college, kids are required to be "generalists". They have to know "enough" about "everything" to do the assignments and pass the tests. However, once they declare a major and start taking most of their classes in that major, and get out into the work force, they can focus on the things that interest them, the things that they do well and love...they're now specialists.
I made parents laugh when I would dramatize the situation. "I'd like to see a runway model come in here and do this work and it's obvious why I'm not doing theirs. Tomorrow, I won't work as a cop; the next day, I won't be a surgeon and the day after that, I won't be delivering the mail. I do this job and this job only and I'm good at it". They understood.
It was comforting to read the brief research article about this discrepancy between school success and success in the world of work because it verified the concepts I explained to kids and parents for decades. Barker said, "The keys to success are to 'know thyself' and to 'pick the right pond'".
Also, Barker emphasized that people need to come to their own definition of success. School doesn't really allow that to happen. School defines success and dangles the carrot and you make the decision whether or not you chase it.
Life, and our careers, are evolutionary. We transition into various stages of life and each one will require us to be a different version of ourselves.
Consider that your child will grow and evolve and that each job, each stage will give them the skills they need to take on the next one. Remember how you had to nurse them, then hold the bottle for them,and then, they held the bottle, and then, they used their fingers to feed themselves, and then, they used utensils, and then, they ate burgers and fries while driving and laughing with their friends? Got it? It happens!
Do your best not to be afraid. I know that my "button-down CEO Fathers had a fit when their creative kids wanted to go to art school. They couldn't relate until I explained the role of art in commerce. Light bulb moment, to say the least. It all worked out just great.
Open your minds. "Oh the places your kids will go..."
Just do the best you can, TTFN, Claudia
Oh, and Karen, if you're out there, let me know how you're doing!
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