What Makes You Succeed At School Vs What Makes You Succeed In Life



You were taken to school even before you knew what it was. At first, it was like a playing ground, but within a few years, you realized it’s a lot of work to remain in school. You’re like most of us that hated every day of our lives in that environment, but you couldn’t leave because school was preparing you to succeed in life (or so your parents made you believe).

18-21 years after your first day at school, you graduated with high hopes, most likely for a good job. It’s only then the reality of real life shows itself to you. After spending one decade in the real world, you start asking yourself whether school actually taught you how to succeed in the real world.

In this blog post, we’ll unpack the difference between what it takes to succeed in school and what it takes to succeed in the real world. 


  1. School hates failures; life is about failures

I remembered checking my results in the first year of the diploma course I did. I was the best student in my class, yet I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy because I didn’t score up to what I wanted. Being the great student I was, I hated to score 70/100. For me to be happy, I had to score 90-something. That’s what it takes to be a great student.

You must hate failure to be a great student. While this is good for academic purposes, hating failures has a way of conditioning us to think that failure is a bad thing altogether. Unfortunately, in the real world, failure is the name of the game. You have to be strong enough to get out and try things, even when there’s no assurance of success. You have to be strong enough to smile at failures. You have to be strong enough to go out again, even after a thousand failures. While school conditioned us to hate failures, failure is what it takes to succeed.

  1. School gives you a map; life gives you nothing

At school, you were told to study hard so that you could get good grades and get a good job, where someone pays you for 30-35 years, after which the same person pays your pension forever. There seems to be a plan and a map. All you have to do is to follow the plan religiously and all will be well with you. Unfortunately, life doesn’t have a map.

In the real world, those who follow the map never succeed. Success almost always goes to the people who go out with no map and figure out who they are and what they want all on the road. You can’t follow a map and be successful in life because that map will lead you to where everyone is going. The map is predictable, and that’s why everyone follows it. Unfortunately, because everyone follows a map, it becomes a crowded path that leads to nowhere.

To succeed in life, you must believe in yourself so much that you’re willing to pursue your dreams even without any predictable route or map. You must be willing to get out without any certainty and believe that the dot will connect itself anyhow.

  1. School is about competition; life is about cooperation

My default brain setting when I was in school was “competition”. I wasn’t just satisfied to have ‘” As”. I must be the best student. I must beat everyone. School conditions us to see life as a competition, while in the actual sense of it, life is about cooperation.

Today as an entrepreneur I can see this plainly as I watch most people going through life without knowing how to partner or cooperate with other people. That’s one major reason most people are poor.

To succeed in life, you must know how to build teams, bring people together, and partner with others. Life isn’t about competition. It’s about cooperation.

  1. School has nice teachers; life is a tough teacher

School has good teachers who smile and play to teach you. Life is a jungle. It’s a tough place. You get nothing except you to fight for it. Fighting for it means that you’ll fall and fail, cry and mourn. It’s tough and rough. In life, you must be prepared to go through hell before you get to heaven.

  1. School gives lessons before tests; life gives tests before lessons

In school, the teacher gives you the lessons and then tests your understanding of the lessons. In life, you get the test (failures) before the lessons.

Though this is a tough way to learn, it’s the best way because when you experience pain, you’re much more likely to pay attention to the lessons than if the lessons come first and the test later.

  1. School preaches obedience; life is about disobedience

You see, school gives us rules, formulas, and procedures. To succeed at school, you must follow all these rules as seen in Mathematics, Chemistry, and every other subject. Resuming at school at a certain hour and closing at a certain time, wearing certain uniforms and pretty much every other stuff is all about rules that require your obedience, which makes you worship laws and status quos.

Unfortunately in the real world, success only goes to people who walk against the crowd. This requires disobedience. To succeed in the real world, a part of you must be willing to disobey what everyone thinks is normal or conventional. You must be courageous enough to go into the bush and make a way where there’s none.

  1. School makes your brain smart; life makes your heart strong

Several studies have proved that your success in school doesn’t have any correlation with your success in the real life. However, one thing does, and that’s emotional intelligence. How people can deal with emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, etc. greatly influences how far they can go in life. The game of life is a game of the heart. You must be strong, not only in the brain but much more in the heart. You must be able to take action despite fear. You must be able to control your anger or anxiety. You must be willing to fight for your dreams.

In summary, school hardly prepares you for the real world, but you can train yourself to achieve greatness. Don’t expect life to be easy, don’t wait for a map. Be willing to get out with no assurance of success. Don’t see life as a competition and don’t be a lone ranger. Learn how to partner and cooperate with people. Accept failures as a necessary part of success and train your heart to overcome emotions that may want to keep you a coward.


Thank you




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