Traits Of Successful Students; Fantasies And Facts

“Driven, committed, tenacious; motivated, confident, innovative”. Some of the adjectives used to describe successful students. Yawn?

How many times have you heard these adjectives thrown around by peers, parents or teachers in relation to why they, their children or pupils possess the key traits of what we think is a ‘successful student’? And how many times have you asked yourself if anyone really does possess all of those qualities all the time? Is someone who is deemed successful always tenacious, always confident, always thinking about new ideas?

But before you say yes to the above, the first question to ask is how anyone measures success. Success, after all, is also a very personal thing, and what may be one person’s measure of success may be quite the opposite to someone else’s (our mental health is certainly not served by a universal idea of ‘being successful’). Take, for example, someone who is very money-oriented, and another person who is a competitive swimmer. It is likely that to the swimmer, success is winning their race and a medal, whereas to the money-oriented person, success is getting a highly paid job and making lots of money. For some it may be going to space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin or visiting his planned ‘space-park’, while others may not even care in the slightest to set foot on the moon.

So, for students, what is success? Many would say getting good A-levels; others would say being made Class President, and some would measure it on having good personal relationships and /or a great group of friends. Most of us, unsurprisingly, would like a combination of these successes. When asked about what traits make a successful student then, it seems obvious that first we should define what we are meaning by success. Secondly, success depends on what the student in question is trying to be successful at.

But, but,….despite all this, there are of course certain characteristics or qualities that contribute to success in every walk of life. Being hard-working, for example, goes a long way in whichever path you choose to take. Another important factor of being successful is to - at times – ignore the naysayers. People say no (to you/your idea) often because it serves their own agenda or because they lack vision or insight. For complying teenagers, this could close doors unnecessarily. A famous example is when the now Michelle Obama told her high school counsellor, at age 17, that she wanted to apply to Princeton and was told that Princeton “was not for her”. Guess where she went to college, on a scholarship? (Yes, Princeton).

Being a half decent public speaker and conversationalist is another helpful trait to become more successful as it helps you to connect to people and to better verbalise your ideas. Lastly, a common denominator for many successful people is that they continue to learn, listen, read and watch, something commonly known as curiosity. Being curious makes you collect seemingly random information, that somehow connects in your brain and will give you the confidence and context to see opportunities when they arise and equally make you more resourceful to not fall at the first hurdle.

Think about what success means to you. When do you feel most satisfied, or proudest about something you have achieved or created? Once you’ve discovered how you measure success personally, you’ll realise that many of the traits you need to achieve ‘your’ success are the ones you already possess. And the good news is, that other tools to help you get to where you want, are things that can be learned relatively easily. Ask Jeff.

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