Character over straight A’s?

The big deal about courageSleepless nights, extra work, and straight As. For me, this was the normal routine of a college student. I broke my back to achieve a GPA of 3.98 and to graduate with a Magna Cum Laude declaration next to my name.

When I began applying for jobs, no one asked me for my GPA, they hardly ever looked at my certificates, and they never quite seemed to understand exactly what Cum Laude meant. More often than not, they were more interested in me as a human being.

Luckily, I went to a high school that focused on outdoor education and experiential learning so, by the time I got to college, it was apparent to me that straight As would only get me half of the way there. Not every student is so lucky.

In an article published on the Guardian website, Anthony Seldon argues that, ‘schools of all kinds have become too much like exam factories, concentrating their energies on securing passes…and have given too little attention to the overall development of the child and their character (the scramble for results has also been at the cost of genuine learning and creative teaching).’

Lead 4 Life, a people development social enterprise in South Africa, furthers Seldon’s argument by proposing that courage, confidence, and healthy self-esteem, are key ingredients in ensuring the well rounded success of students, preparing them for university and life. By the time I was leaving college, I could almost recite some of the textbooks we used but my true work skills came from the real world, not theory or textbooks; essentially, it’s not what you know, but rather, who you are.

Living in the Entrepreneurial Age

Like it or not, the world is fast moving towards self-start ups and small businesses. While many students will be vying for the saturated job market, a great deal of them will become entrepreneurs. According to Team Lead 4 Life, a large amount of students come from a household where at least one parent is running his or her own business. The Entrepreneurial age is arguably as important as the industrial age and the information age – it’s an age where business owners can serve their customers at the highest level of quality and scale, simultaneously.

Amongst the many qualities that comprise being an entrepreneur, courage, confidence, and a healthy self-esteem rank rather high up on the list. Having a leadership outlook of your own life is paramount to rising above the old standard of having others dictate how to pursue your dreams and aspirations. This will take a great deal of courage: the courage to forgo the perceived security of a nine-to-five job after high school or university.

Entrepreneur.com outlines that successful entrepreneurs possess a great deal of confidence which ensures that they don’t second guess themselves, compromise their priorities, or refuse to learn new skills. To be able to survive the real world, one has to bleed confidence and confidence gives rise to a healthy self-esteem – someone who is comfortable with who one is and can get through things that don’t turn out the way one expected.