With the impending GCSE results due out tomorrow, the topic was already trending in the early hours of this morning on Twitter with thousands of teenagers anxiously waiting to see how they had fared, many of them already dismayed at the fact that grade boundaries for certain subjects had been raised… again.
At school, I was a high achiever who enjoyed the process of learning. I worked hard with the belief that qualifications were the be all and end all to everything that would make my life successful and happy in the future, and even after doing my A levels and a degree, my GCSE exams still remain as one of the scariest and most stressful experiences I’ve ever had.
And yet, eighteen years of life after leaving school (and spending ten years working as a teacher) has made me realise that, while qualifications on paper are important, there is more to success than just being able to understand what the value of X is, or have a working knowledge of a meander, or knowing how many wives Henry VIII had.
Here are fifteen things that require no qualifications or talent:
1. Manners. There’s never an excuse not to use a basic ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ or wait until someone has finished speaking before you as a question. I’m still gobsmacked at the amount of adults who haven’t grasped this.
2. Being punctual. It’s not difficult to arrive somewhere on time.
3. A smile. Smile at someone and they’re more likely to smile back at you. A smile makes you appear more approachable and automatically creates a nicer atmosphere in a room.
4. Presenting yourself in a professional way. Keep yourself and your clothes clean, don’t be too garish with your make-up (yes, I’m including the boys in that too) and don’t litter your vocabulary with profanities.
5. A willingness to learn new things, even if you deem them unimportant or find it difficult. If I were given just a pound for every time I’ve had to battle with a student who has decided that they don’t want to learn something because they found it unnecessary for their future dream job I could have retired a long time ago. You never know where new information could lead you.
6. Self-respect. You’re the only person that you will spend the rest of your life with. Treat yourself with the respect you deserve – don’t put yourself down and proclaim that you are stupid if you don’t understand something first time round.
7. Self-motivation. It isn’t somebody else’s job to keep pushing you forward on a daily basis. If something needs doing then do it without being reminded or nagged.
8. An appreciation that the world does not exist just in your own little bubble. Empathy, sympathy and consideration for those around you will go a long way.
9. Doing your best. Nobody can ask more from you than that.
10. Accepting and learning from failure. I’ve failed many times. We all have, and every highly successful person can give a hundred examples of ways in which they’ve failed disastrously in their journey. Pick yourself back up, stop complaining and try again.
11. Being trustworthy. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Avoid gossip. Keep other people’s confidence.
12. Having a passion, even if it’s for a hobby. I write because I love it. Truly, it’s the one thing that I never get bored of doing. And because I love it, I’ve made a small success of it, which spurs me on to write even more. Being passionate about something will inspire you to learn more about it.
13. Working hard and putting in the hours. I have more traditional qualifications than both of my sisters, and both earn more money than I do, because they’ve put in the time and effort to deserve their salaries.
14. Being able to let go and move on. It took me thirty years to learn this, and I wish I had done it sooner – it would have saved me countless hours of anger and bitterness.
15. Understanding that money isn’t everything. Yes, lots of money makes life easier, but success is not defined by the size of your house or the name tags on your clothes. I’m happy to live on virtually nothing if I need to. For me, success is being surrounded by people who care for you and your well being. Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and know that you’re a good person. Success is a million memories of good times. Success is being truly happy.
What about you guys? Any ideas for being successful without needing qualifications?
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I’ve been particularly inspired by a graphic that I’ve seen floating around the Internet on a number of occasions titled ’10 Things That Require Zero Talent’ for this post, but I’d also like to thank Sacha for her input…