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The Truth About Success

The Truth About Success An Article that will inspire you to think about the real meaning of success: about its breadth, depth and height and how an enriched mindset about success can help your pupils achieve more.

Success is dependent on effort. 

I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

What is success? What does it have to do with standards? And how does it show itself in the classroom?

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Educators, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Success Mindset Multiple Intelligences Dweck Gardner
Rank these 5 people in order of how successful they were or are (gut feel, no need to labour the task):Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Adolf Hitler, Rowan Atkinson, Margaret Thatcher

Who did you put first? Last? In the middle? Your choices and reasons (and there is no right or wrong here) reveal your beliefs about success: Bill Gates first financially (or philanthropically)? Rowan Atkinson first for happiness spread? Hitler first for strength of influence? Mother Teresa first for care? In fact each one could be deemed ‘most successful’ if the ‘success criteria’ used to evaluate them matched their major achievement in life.

Success vs Standards
Publicly validated success is narrowing and shrinking when in should be widening and growing. Success means getting good grades, going to university then securing a well-paid job (or winning a national talent show). All valuable and worthy but what if you are a student whose strengths don’t have an associated grade? What if you excel in ways that are not easily measured and valued on a list on classroom wall in August? What if your path takes you into the world rather than into just one academic establishment? The challenge for schools is with imposed standards that value only a subset of the ways in which pupils can thrive, succeed and contribute. 

The Diversity of Success
The most academically successful schools I work in cite their extra-curricular programmes as integral to exam achievements. The broader the curriculum, the greater chance of finding a place to succeed. Sir Christopher Ball argues that every person should have at least “one outrageous learning success”. The broader the opportunities, the more likely this is to happen. And Howard Gardner proposes that each element in the diversity of intelligence is equally valuable. We need to enrich our beliefs about success and adjust our words and actions accordingly. We need also to challenge those who limit our pupils by their own restrictive definition of success. Success is wide, deep and high.

Failure and Mindset
Once we’ve revisited and expanded our definitions of success we need to help our pupils find their strengths and believe in their potential. We must also help them the develop determination and resilience to achieve this potential. Carol Dweck shows how mindsets ultimately influence success. Growth mindsets are more likely to reach their potential; fixed mindsets less so. A fixed mindset avoids failure at all costs and when it does fail learns quickly how to avoid a repetition. Growth mindsets accept failure as integral to success. They mine each failure for the learning inside it. Then they use this learning in their next attempt. They believe that failure is just one type of feedback. They don’t fear it, they apply it. 

Related Resources:

Certificate - Mindset of the Week

Certificate - Mistake of the Week

Certificate - Success After Failure

Goal Thinking

Intelligence Think Sheet

Praise for Learning

Well-Being Planner


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