98% marks: Congratulations ….52% marks: Congratulations in advance – you could do much better and be “ Qualified to Succeed in Life” – just do the right thing now.

As the “Results Season” dawns in India with all Boards – Central and various States declaring the results, students and parents go into an ecstasy mode if their children have done very well, and those whose children have not, resign to the fate that they are not going to make it big in life. These “marks” which many a times even touch 100 /100 in many subjects, have made people think that these are only the parameters of future success. Unfortunately adults, parents, the media and the coaching classes and private for profit universities have created such a hype that we are turning to be a nation of so called highly educated brilliant students, but most of whom do not deliver in life. The many competitive exams that our students keep working for over years and trying to excel in have actually made our younger generation follow meaningless pursuits and forget other better aspects of life.

This is the most appropriate “season” or time, to tell our youngsters and even our parents, the real facts of learning, education, life and happiness. This is the time when teenagers to be told that if you have not succeeded in getting a good score in exams, nothing, and really nothing matters much

Parents, if you always wondered what will happen to your children if they do not excel in studies, let me tell you that your fears are extremely unfounded. If they excel in studies, there is no guarantee that they will excel in life and reach high positions. If they do not excel in studies, there is actually a greater chance that they will succeed in life- provided their leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, language skills and many other aspects of their personality are developed. Some of the best political leaders, best business persons, best corporate leaders are not having great academic skills/ certifications/ degrees. They are simply great leaders and that’s why they are there. Some of the best CEOs and leaders are excellent speakers at forums, have a wonderful thought process and convincing abilities and extra ordinary knowledge, but in many cases they were not brilliant in academics. At least they were not toppers ! Why? It is only because during their many formative years they were exposed to far more than books and academics only. May be they were involved in a lot of extra curricular activities, had innumerable friends which we now call as “networking” and developed many qualities which actually matter in life more than your marks or academic excellence.

With my 30 + years of working experience in responsible positions in India and overseas, I feel academics plays just 25% role in the success of your career or in the success in your life . The rest 75% that will make a difference in your profession, career and life is your leadership skills, your self esteem, your confidence level, your convincing abilities, your communication skills, your interpersonal skills, your dynamism, your networking ability, your ability to interact with a wide range of people, and your ability to lead teams . Unless you are a surgeon/ doctor, a scientist/ research engineer, or someone really hands on technical- only then academics may play a greater role in your success than other qualities. For the remaining 90% of the masses , it is your leadership ability, soft skills, your personality that will take you places . It is most important to build your personality along with your study skills for a real success in life. The earlier you start, the better. 75% of the best jobs actually seek out people with excellent personalities and very few people really are looking out only for academic talent.

Ten years in the Middle East exposed me at times to some of the UK based schools that a lot of people sent their students to. I was amazed at the skills in communication, impromptu speaking, confidence levels, and clarity of thought and expression that even 12 year olds had, even the Indian ones. It was obvious that these schools focused right from the beginning on these areas , which are practical requirements of life, and not just academic excellence. Most American schools and universities have on going testing during the entire year , where you evaluate a student with a test at the end of the lecture or at the end of the week, ensuring the student actually learns “during the lecture” itself, rather than at the end of the year. I know we will come to that stage sometime now or later, but all the many years that our schooling / educational system has taught us has either not being relevant fully to our lives or they have not being instrumental in improving our thought processes. I realized in USA that a Community College diploma holder, who has landed up there as his family cannot raise a huge sum for University fees, is far better in his work and focused on the job than an Indian engineer qualified as a BTech or BE. In Dubai I noted that the Italian Technician with 10+2 education at a Polytechnique was far better hands on in his work than many Indian engineers put together, due to his training at work/ internship.

At my personality development institute I have encountered “scholars” with 95%+ marks who are shy, or unable to articulate a point or who have great problems in confidence and also very weak in spoken English despite getting 90%+ marks. I have “professionals” coming in who are doing quite skilled jobs and holding responsible positions but who are unable to handle bosses or colleagues, speak at meetings and hold fort in important meetings with clients. I guess there are a lot many things that are just not right while we learn during a long 17 -18 year learning process.. That could have something to do with our parents, schooling and the government. A very minor fraction of our population is of course is super excellent and goes on to head large corporation internationally, but is that what we seek as a country ?

Specially in my last 20 years of work, I noticed 2 types of professionals. Both types had equally good domain knowledge of their work / subjects. One type had in addition, excellent communication skills and were also good in many different areas like Public Relations, making friends, winning over people , clients and making excellent personal contacts. These guys/ gals most probably were also more active in extra curricular activities during school & college times. I noticed that these guys moved up the corporate ladder very fast and moved on to take on wider & higher roles and responsibilities. The other type also did well, but only those who had a really excellent domain knowledge did make a good mark. I am pretty sure that all the others in this second type, if had rounded off their personalities well in time, could have got a lot more in return.

In fact I remember a large multinational company hired only one person from a choice of many, during the placement season at my engineering college due to his other abilities than just academics. This person had a poor academic record of several ATKTs, Today the same person runs a very successful electrical products manufacturing company- not just because of his technical knowledge, but due to his DYNAMISM and being extremely MARKET SAVVY and STREET SMART. These word in CAPS have nothing to do with your marks. I have seen highly qualified people from top institutions of engineering and management who have not made any mark in life, as they were very inhibited in their approach, were selfish and lacked leadership and team building skills.

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. ( like Technology, Science, Accounting, Engineering, Software etc )

It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university or a great school. A person with less education who has fully developed their overall skills will be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories. Yes, it is certainly great to be good in academics, be an intelligent person good in math, science and logic etc ,and be a rational thinker, have a high IQ; all these are an important assets ….but you must realize these are not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but other things will benefit you and everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence such as communication skills, team building skills, leadership skills, networking, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.

In many developed countries the above qualities are rated as a great form of competence along with typical academics. I want to tell young boys and girls- marks are just ONE thing for success . So if you do not have great marks, just don’t get bogged down by it. There are so many things in life that you can excel in, provided you are well developed as a person, a great human being . Why do we glorify only board toppers ? Why do not we give publicity to those who top armed forces exams, police entrance exams, fireman exams, social workers, sportsmen and good politicians too ? Are these not essential professions ? Don’t these services need great people and is that not a form of achievement? Why don’t we congratulate and have awards for small entrepreneurs. In many cases to excel in many areas that are relevant to our country or elsewhere , you need different levels of achievements other than academics. We must change the way we look at marks. The change must start with parents, with schools and the government.

Recently I asked one of my Asst. Managers who is an Engineer-MBA from a good university, who has super excellent marks if she and her brother had read during school -Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys, Mills & Boon, and Tin Tin- forget Shakespeare .Unfortunately she did not know any of these books or its authors like Enid Blyton or Franklin Dixon, something my generation of youngsters devoured during school days. Then I asked her marks in English during the boards, and it was a fantastic figure. I could only tell her that she has missed out on life in the process of scoring great marks ! The real charm of learning, growing up and studying is getting lost under the super tough academic competition. Lets us admit that thousands who get 100% in science and math at the SSC/CBSE levels do not make it in the IIT entrance. So young people, do not give too much importance to the marks. It is not a guarantee for anything. It does not tell your real competence.

For those who seek degrees or achieving academic qualifications in life , or even those who think they will “miss the bus” of professional qualifications, do not worry- it is possibly the best time for you . Nowadays you can get any degree from anywhere in India or in the world. The options are many: full time / part time / correspondence/ on line or just by sending your fees/ payment ( unfortunately ) ! Many well known educational institutions are into this business now , selling degrees or other certifications in bulk. So everyone is going to be a qualified person, regardless of your marks. Many US / UK universities are full of Indian students now. Not because of the fact that Indians are well educated and intelligent, but because their parents could pay the fees or take loans. So even there are going to be too many foreign returned educated persons. ‘It is all about money’ -is the another story that is taking shape in India. You may thus be “qualified” in the academic sense. In this scenario of oversupply of all professionals, the questions to ask yourself are: Are you good enough to beat the competition…… are you employable…. whether you can be a leader / entrepreneur?, more specifically : Are you “QUALIFIED TO SUCCEED IN LIFE” ? That may not need great marks in the first place. You just need to keep working on yourself continuously- with specific work related skills and life skills: not a one time academic certification.

Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar- Director of Persona Academy, http://www.personaacademy.in

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