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Good attitude does generally trump academic ability, doesn't it?

(29 Posts)
Draylon Sun 12-Nov-17 15:19:45

Obviously, the acknowledged 'ideal' in our society is both; but given most people are somewhere different on both spectra, I am increasingly believing that a reasonable work ethic, willing to try, put in a bit of effort- will win out over the 'naturally' academically able who net top grades for all but no effort.

I know it seems obvious, but I am looking at my two DSs, 18/16.

The older is reasonably clever but has always consistently under-performed academically. I have to nag endlessly. For (eye-rolling) personal statement reasons, he's got a PT job- or at least, will have when he finally completes the online training. Which I have just told him to Get On With. Speaking of the PS, he 'works' on it when I strongly remind him of the consequences of having no plan, come July next year. Yes, he wants to go to uni, has sort of chosen 3 courses to apply for (2 at one local uni, one at another local uni), but the actual act of putting his application forms in is so 'mañana'. Drives me mad. (He's just slumped back on the sofa, I asked him whether he'd finished his on-line training- 'No, I can't log into the site'. End of. 'So what have you done about it' Cue rolled eyes and 'well, I'll have a go on your PC later...').

DS2, however, tho no swot, sort of 'gets on with it'. Has never received anything other than top marks for effort at school (recognised at prize giving, last week); achieved his predicteds in his GCSEs; applied for PT work same time as DS1 (because he wanted to get PT work!), and actually started today.

Sure, DS2 doesn't leap to his feet when I ask for a chore to be done, but will generally get up with little fuss; whereas DS1 will actively seek to make out he's busy, suddenly flipping from gaming to homework on his PC, for instance. Cue how I'll apparently 'make him fail' if I insist he does the chore as he has homework to do (tho has 2 clear days free of college a week to do it in...).

Thing is, DS1 is considerably more 'street smart' than DS2, who can be a bit naive, tbh, and a bit simplistic (am pitying the middle aged ladies who ask him where the perennials are at his work at a garden centre grin ); but I am increasingly believing that DS2 will ultimately achieve more out of life than DS1.

Just musing, really!

RippleEffects Sun 12-Nov-17 15:43:29

What do you mean by achieve more?

My DS1 has phenomenal but narrowly focused academic intelligence yet can't cross a road or answer a ringing phone. DS2 is in my eyes is quite bright, has a smile that goes ear to ear and a twinkle in his eyes.

DS1 has the potential to be very successful if I/he find a way to channel his ability and we get him/ he accepts support for the right employer he's gold. But for life and it's enjoyment, that's going to be an ongoing confussing struggle.

DS2 I think will do alright, financially and socially. He can find his happy and role with the punches, well he's working on that but I have confidence he'll master it.

RedSkyAtNight Sun 12-Nov-17 16:00:47

In my experience it's people with huge self confidence who do well at selling themselves who do well.

BubblesBuddy Mon 13-Nov-17 20:27:02

No. Being willing won’t get you the best jobs if you are not intellectually up to it. Being intellectually bright is a huge advantage and with skills (that may need honing) the bright student can go further for obvious reasons. It’s just a case of being mature and being a rounded person - which may, or may not, come with maturity.

My DD did well academically without much effort. Confidence does go a long way and effort was required for her degree and during her post degree training. She was able to acquire interests in all sorts of things because she didn’t spend every waking minute studying and this results in a rounded personality. Lots of bright people can put the effort in when they need to if they want the outcome enough!

RavingRoo Mon 13-Nov-17 20:29:30

You can work hard to become great in academics, but you have to work smart to be successful in the world of work. Look at the CEOs of world’s biggest companies, only a few of them were degree qualified when they started with their organisation.

Soursprout Tue 14-Nov-17 10:29:46

No .. I don’t think it does

TeenTimesTwo Tue 14-Nov-17 12:16:45

In the case of your DSs I think DS2 will do better than DS1 at least initially. This is my prediction smile :

DS1 is in danger of missing out on university because of his can't be bothered attitude. So he may find himself in a job that isn't very demanding intellectually. This may then go 2 ways. He'll be bored, so won't put the effort in so won't progress. Or he'll realise that this is not for him and he will put effort in to change either by returning to studying or pushing in his job to get promoted somewhere more interesting.

DS2 however will reach his academic ability (whether uni or not), but will then work hard at his job, and if he has potential hopefully opportunities will open up for him as they will see he is conscientious and willing to learn. If one job doesn't work out, he'll get his act together to look for a better alternative.

happygardening Tue 14-Nov-17 12:21:52

I don’t think you can know who’ll achieve more. People change, maybe your DS1 is fed up with education at the moment isn’t applying to uni because he can’t see the point thinks hes going to be bored. But things may change. My DS2 left school at 18 with outstanding grades despite minimal work in 2 subjects and no work in one. He had no desire to go to uni, he had plans to do a more vocational job. He took a gap year, did three totally different jobs, 1 abroad, did something similar to his dream vocational job and slightly under protest filled in a UCAS form submitting it very late. By August this year he was champing at the bit to go to uni, wants to get back to academia, the idea of the vocational job was a very distant memory; his experience in one job showed him it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in fact it was pretty shit! Now at uni he’s happy thriving loving his course and he says working hard.
DS1 (21) on the other hand has always wanted to go to uni (3rd year) but nearly left this year, he doesn’t really enjoy it and he’s discovered something that not only does he enjoy but he’s actually good at that’s more vocational.
Teenagers/young adults change their ideas/plans, my advise sit back and let them work out for themselves what they want and where they’re going to go they’ll get there in the end. Don’t worry about “achieving more” just support them even through the eye rolling and the reluctance to hoover and let them find out what works best for them as individuals.
Does it matter if one on paper achieves more? And what does “achieve”mean? If my DS’s are happy, doing what they want to do, if they’re in relationship and are happy, have a roof of some description over they’re head and enough money to pay the daily bills and a bit more isn’t that an achievement?

JoJoSM2 Wed 15-Nov-17 08:06:47

I think there's only so much intelligence you need for any job/career. I don't think many high flying CEOs are necessarily geniuses. Just reasonably intelligent and definitely needed to be very motivated, hard working, confident and have strong interpersonal skills to get to the top.

BubblesBuddy Wed 15-Nov-17 09:59:37

Which CEOs of the FT100 don’t have degrees??? Self made company owners are different. They are often innovators, have tremendous zeal and personality (PR!) and hit on the right idea at the right time. Also don’t forget that these front men (they usually are) have crack teams behind them. One person is not running everything. No-one these days starts on the shop floor. They start on graduate recruitment schemes.

JoJoSM2 Wed 15-Nov-17 13:07:46

BubblesBuddy, of course they have degrees and probably most have been to good unis and have post-graduate degrees too. We live in a country where 40% of people are graduates so that’s a bit of a given in any professional job. What I mean by ‘reasonably clever’ is a bit over the average so, say, top 25% of the population.

catslife Wed 15-Nov-17 13:57:50

We live in a country where 40% of people are graduates
That's debatable depending on whether you include older people because there are much lower percentages of graduates for ages 60 and upwards.

catslife Wed 15-Nov-17 14:04:35

Having said that by the time you achieve your degree most employers won't be bothered about what GCSE grades you achieved. Each level academically is simply a stepping stone to the next one.
There are lots of life skills that cannot be assessed academically but are very valuable in the workplace.
Having said that it is possible for some people to work "very hard" and still not achieve really highly and for more laid back types to do well in the long term.

Tfoot75 Wed 15-Nov-17 14:11:07

I think it’s usually a bit of both, but if you’re missing one you need bags of the other to make up for it! I’m naturally academic and have done very well at school, uni and additional professional qualifications with minimal effort really. I work in a high pressure finance related job (part time) but don’t have much motivation to reach higher levels - so my academic ability more than makes up for my lack of effort but only gets you so far I suppose.

The people mentioned who are CEOs of top companies for example but may not have degrees definitely do not have just the effort without the ability by the way, to be successful at that level you really must have ability in absolute spades - I come across these types of people through my work and you just can’t have the ability to make the right decisions, give speeches saying the right things etc unless you really are incredibly clever and on the ball (not something I could ever dream of!). It’s the effort that’s required to reach that level but you must have talent as well to be a success!

Anatidae Wed 15-Nov-17 14:17:55

To succeed;

You need a basic level of intelligence that probably a bit smarter than the average bear, but not a vast intellect. Then you need grit, an ability to learn from your mistakes, stickability and hard work.

Both your boys have the possibility to succeed. They just need to play to their strengths and learn how to use them.

One thing: the idea of do-fail-do again- fail better- succeed is critical. Praise for effort over attainment. Make sure they know that success can take hard work.

Taffeta Thu 16-Nov-17 15:30:39

I often wonder about this with mine. DS is sharp as a tack, very quick, academically able, and the most competitive person I've ever come across. He's also never satisfied. I think he'll end up "successful" but never content.

DD finds academic work harder, takes her time over things, and generally seems to enjoy life more. She's infinitely more resilient which has been proven with her dealing with a whole load of shit the last year, incredibly well. I think she will be content.

I just want them both to be able to support themselves to the level they wish, and to be happy.

BackforGood Thu 16-Nov-17 22:45:59

No, I don't think it does. As others have said a big dollop of self confidence mixed with the ability to relate to people will go a long way. As you say, some of each would be best mix.

cluelessnewmum Fri 17-Nov-17 09:07:20

You need a reasonable level of intelligence and realistically a degree in a serious subject. But after that hard work gets you a long way. In my industry I've seen the average grads get ahead of the brightest ones because they graft and getting through a heavy workload is often of more value to employers than intellectual brilliance.

I would stop nagging your ds1 about his PS, he presumably knows the deadline. Give him the chores to do, I don't think the pandering helps. Make it clear that if he doesn't go to uni this year he will be getting a menial job to pay his way to continue living at your house as well as pull his weight with chores. The alternative should be enough to motivate him to get off his computer games.

BertrandRussell Fri 17-Nov-17 09:16:53

"Look at the CEOs of world’s biggest companies, only a few of them were degree qualified when they started with their organization"

Oh, I do find It frustrting when people say "Look at X successful person-they left school at 16 with no qualifications" Well, yes, they might have done. But look at all the other people who left school at 16 with no qualifications who aren't Alan Sugar or Richard Branson!

TheHandmaidsTail Fri 17-Nov-17 09:23:54

I think what you say is true if someone is to reach their potential. Certainly I know many intelligent people, men actually when I think about it, who were academic but haven't had the careers and success I would have imagined when we were younger. Due to laziness and a lack of application <huge generalisation>

What I would also say is that intelligence is measured in many ways, not just through academia. I'm good at traditional school subjects, but in the workplace my success comes from my interpersonal skills and ability to work well with people and get them engaged in whatever I want/need to promote.

It's not all A levels and degrees.

Sarahjconnor Fri 17-Nov-17 09:28:01

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard

That's the simple truth but if in reality twin studies show that genetics are the most important factor in academic success - which is a shame when we'd all prefer merit to count for more.

expotition Fri 17-Nov-17 09:33:32

Depends. The big challenge for many people is knowing what they would like to achieve. My impression is that the people I know who had a strong vocation early on, and followed it, are now happier than those who didn't - even if those who didn't got better grades, make more money etc.

irvineoneohone Fri 17-Nov-17 11:19:17

Talent+ hard work = best results. They need both.

MyOtherNameIsAFordFiesta Fri 17-Nov-17 11:31:31

I agree largely with @Anatidae .

But I think lack of hard work rarely ends with success, no matter how intelligent you are; lack of intelligence can lead to success if you work hard.

MissWilmottsGhost Fri 17-Nov-17 11:35:43

I agree with TeenTimesTwo's prediction for your DS1, as it is pretty much my own experience. I was bright but lazy and hated authority and being told what to do, I left school with crap qualifications. After several years in minimum wage jobs I thought fuck this shit and went back to college, studied very hard this time, then went to uni and had a successful career.

But I do think that overall perseverance trumps intelligence. Being smart didn't help me get where I am nearly as much as just turning up and paying attention did.

Isn't there a good Einstein quote about it? I'll have a google...

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