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Why do A students have C filled lives?

May 26, 2010

A for AppleIn school conforming gets you an A.

In life, conforming gets you lots of C’s.

How could that be?

Let me explain…

In school you receive A’s for doing exactly what the teacher says. You’re rewarded for fitting in, following directions and not making a ruckus in class. Do these things and you’ll receive an A.

Unfortunately lots of A students settle for C jobs.

Follow directions, do whatever your boss says, and you’ll live a life full of C’s. C stands for things like cubicle, cog, and complacency.

It’s easy to settle for C’s in real life. It’s the equivalent to A you used to receive in school. People stay in “C” jobs they hate, long after they’ve outgrown the opportunity.

“I should be happy I even have a job”, is something I often hear from discouraged employees.

True you should always be grateful, but being grateful should never be an excuse for staying in a job that’s not bringing out the best in you.

Most people don’t believe there are better opportunities out there. In reality there are endless opportunities out there in the world.

You just have to hustle to get there.

Your dream job is available right now, what are you doing to stand out from everyone else?

What kind of relationships are you forming? How are you adding value to the world?

In school you aren’t rewarded for having the most friends, asking tough questions of the teacher, or making everyone laugh in class. These things are actually punished, yet they may be some of the most important skills in life.

It’s a new game with a new set of rules folks.

If you are in a C job, please know that you don’t have to settle.

But, if you want an A level job you will have to hustle.

What have you done today to get one step closer to your dream job?

I challenge you to do one thing today, and then leave it in the comments below. I’ll do the same 🙂

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 11:13 pm

    I like this a lot. I was just talking to someone today about how it’s really easy for me to get excited for my Sales Centre projects, but it’s difficult for me to get excited about schoolwork and putting 110% into school. I feel like if I spent too much time striving to get straight A’s for that elusive 4.0, my involvement in the Sales Centre would be drastically cut, preventing me from really searching and finding that “A” job.

    Great post.

  2. May 27, 2010 12:36 am

    I must say that I myself have often thought about this same subject. Those who seek approval and who do not think on there own may be rewarded in the short term with perfect grades but in the long run those who are able to think on their own two feet and go against the grain are the innovators who add true value to the people and the world around them.

  3. May 27, 2010 9:48 am

    @Adam – Keep an eye out for what gets you excited throughout your life. That’s always a good sign you are doing the right stuff. 4.0’s are nice, you’ll get recognition from the college, but don’t let school interfere with your education.

    @Nathan – Love the insight, I think you are dead on. What really concerns me is that students who aren’t the best students can loose their self-esteem. I wonder how many great innovators and entrepreneurs we have lost to our education system?

  4. May 27, 2010 1:22 pm

    I’m a recovering A-student, and it’s difficult getting out of that comfort zone. As an entrepreneur, the biggest change is setting my own goals and deadlines. The external pressure from school assignments and the competitiveness of peer performance ranking were great motivators. Even in my internships, it was really convenient to have someone setting the bar for me. I had gotten really good at jumping.

    Great post, Brandon. Inspiring reminder to get one step closer to the dream every day, because I’m the only one who can hold me back.

  5. May 27, 2010 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the comment Nick, I totally agree with your sentiment. As much as we want to be our own bosses when the time comes its a lonely world and there’s little direction besides you and the voice in your head. Not quite a multiple choice question huh?

    I think having a business partner can help when you both push and compliment each other when you go off into the unknown. (full disclosure, I have received some A’s in my life as well) 😉

  6. May 27, 2010 6:52 pm

    I love this blog post! I’m glad Brandon pointed out that most schools don’t reward students who have the ability to ask tough questions. All of us who want to get from point A to point B in life need to have the ability to ask the tough questions and to stand up for what we believe is right. We also need to be able to laugh and to be able to keep and grow our network of friends.

    People always need to work at making themselves more valuable. I often run into people that are only focused on short-term results. Although short-term results are important, long-term results are just as important. If you fit the A level student category and/or the C level job category, starting thinking about where you want to be ten years from now and then figure out how you are going to get there. Most likely you’ll need to shake things up to make it happen!

  7. C Moran permalink
    May 27, 2010 9:41 pm

    I love this connection you have created here. I agree that many teachers base their curriculum around the idea that students will be able to regurgitate information and conform to their directions.

    It is truly a shame that many teachers do not reserve A’s for students who think outside of the parameters created by the teacher. A’s for leading and guiding other students. A’s for going above and beyond what is asked for, displaying rare and unique qualities and questioning their surrounding factors such as the community, society, and even teachers in their lives. But the truth of the matter is that most teachers would not be able to create an environment like this without losing control over their class. I say most, because obviously there are teachers who have the ability to inspire and tap qualities like the aforementioned.

    What graduates need to understand, is that school is a jumping point. It helps develop the basic qualities for comprehending, assessing, applying and even communicating. Where each individual jumps from there is up to the individual. Those who plateau and do not try to develop their own unique abilities and talents will be the ones who settle for C jobs.

  8. May 27, 2010 11:47 pm

    Maybe the time is right to stop giving out grades, and start dolling out experience points. Check out Jesse Schell’s talk on pervasive games, too.

  9. May 28, 2010 9:58 am

    @Chris, I’m so glad you joined the discussion. I really appreciate your perspective as an educator and friend.

    First, I want to say good teachers are probably some of the most important people in the world. Teachers in general are awesome, but I guess my generalization of “schools” really focuses on my recent experience with higher education curriculum.

    I agree there needs to be a baseline throughout much of school, but by the time you are in college its time to train the workforce of the future. We’ve got some big problems in the world, and they aren’t going to be solved by multiple choice tests.

    Would you agree our schools, students, and professors are capable of so much more? That’s really my challenge. Go do great work and make a difference whether you get an A or not really doesn’t matter.

    This is a great speech which is a call to reinvent the liberal arts education.

    @Nick, love the experience points. Thanks for sharing the TED talk that’s on the to-do for this weekend.

  10. May 30, 2010 12:12 pm

    As an adjunct professor in entrepreneurship, my best students have rarely been the “A” guys. The A students are playing a different game. They see a high GPA as a ticket to the best job in corporate America. Fair enough.

    However, the future entrepreneurs in the class are easily spotted. They really don’t care about the grade. They learn what they think is relevant, and ignore the rest. One of my best students, super smart, economics major epitomizes this. He sat in the back of the room and made it his mission to challenge my assertions on a daily basis. After graduating, he moved to LA to make it in the music business.

    Just saw him on TV the other night on Idol final playing lead guitar for Kris Allen. 24m people watching.

    Many paths to take.

    • June 1, 2010 1:55 pm

      You animal! The web is a small place.

      Brandon – I can vouch for this guy. The best professor I EVER had!
      But that was before I knew I wasn’t his best student. Haha.

      Keep fostering, growing and sparking the entrepreneurial spirit!
      Good stuff guys.

  11. June 1, 2010 1:50 pm


    Fired up man! It floors me how many people long to work for a Fortune 500 company but have never set foot in the building to see all the rows of cubes where any sliver of creativity or independent thinking will be doused by spreadsheet overload.

    What am I doing everyday you ask? Gaining insight and confirming my convictions through passionate people and posts like yours!

    Keep em coming Brandon!

  12. June 3, 2010 2:55 pm

    Ryan, thanks so much for the comment. Scott is top notch, I wish I could have had him for a professor!

    We met in Cincinnati a while back and still chat occasionally. (he pointed me in the direction of your blog and I totally dig what you are doing)

    You write very well, judging by your comments above. Have you done any written blogging in addition to the videos you have posted?

    Keep on shooting. Check out my friend’s videos on her blog. Definitely opens up your mind to video blogging possibilities!

  13. Tami Williams permalink
    June 10, 2010 1:59 pm

    Oh, man, I just looked again at your friend, Michelle’s video which I will call, “To be or not to be.” My head is spinning. No, we cannot be whomever we want to be via Web 2.0. I live and affect the world in reality. I cannot be 26 again, etc., and pretending is wasteful to me. I like myself enough to be me. I restrict my forays into pretend to memories of a real and accomplished life. Maybe ranting here, but I was provoked. Thinking is good.

  14. June 23, 2010 2:30 am

    nice post..

  15. June 25, 2010 3:20 pm

    I love what you have going here! As for what I did today, I applied for another freelance writing gig and have been working on my other business idea.

    Keep up the great work!


  16. chasinggreenerdays permalink
    August 14, 2010 8:55 am

    Thank you so much for posting this!

    It is a quandary I have thought over many a time. I am a victim (and I use this term loosely, mind you 🙂 ) of A/conforming-itis and have only just realized that I don’t have to be afflicted. This has taken 32 years to figure out.

    I was steadfast in trying to become a cubicle wage-earner and constantly failed. The mindless drone routine was too . . . draining and constricting. But we all know cubicalism is the way life “should” be, right? We’re supposed to buckle down and earn that paycheck. And that’s all fine and dandy for some, but it isn’t the way I WANT MY life to be.

    I am moving into higher education as it is where my talents and current interest lie, but I have no plans to stay. My life goals are to take me elsewhere, but while here, I will learn and experience all that I can before moving on.

    Free-thinkers are not valued in our culture–at least that has been my observation. The sad irony of that, is that it was a group of free-thinkers who freed us from forced mass conformity in the first place, when we were under monarchy.

    Some of our greatest inventors and leaders were undoubtedly free-thinkers, yet I can’t really think of anyone today who possesses any of the gumption our predecessors have displayed. And I can’t help but think that if someone were to step up to make a difference, he or she would be labeled a pariah, crazy, extreme or trouble-maker. We’re supposed to stay quiet, keep our heads down, don’t ask questions, just keep pushing those papers . . . Conform.

    Now my question is this: Why is that? Something tells me the answer lies in institutionalized education.

    Again, thanks for this post. Keep up the good work and observation, my friend.


  1. A Call to Arms: Educational Enlightenment « Would You Like to Rationalize That?

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