I just finished up teaching architectural design – a really creative subject, and I loved it. It was an opportunity for students to go really crazy with ideas and push the boundaries, and for me to be a part of that.
Every student had a different reason for being in the room – a different driver, a different agenda – either evident or not so evident.
I spent the first part of the semester dodging questions like “What do I have to do to get an A?” or “What percentage is this bit worth?” (Hard to answer in a holistic creative process, and not what it’s actually about!)
In response to these questions I did my very best to explain that the grades don’t count, but they do. In other words the grades count, but they don’t.
It’s Not About The Outcome
Yes, at the end of the day the grades count. They’re an indication of a number of things, including:
- Whether you’ve done the work;
- How ”well” you did the work;
- Whether you understand the work; and
- Whether you seem remotely interested in the work.
But, if you’re focussed on just the grades, then you’re focussed on the outcome – and chances are you’re missing the whole journey. And often, it’s the journey that brings the greatest opportunity – if you’re open to it.
I know. I’ve been there…chasing the grade, the “piece of paper”, the title.
If you’re focussed just on the grades and the piece of paper and the outcome, and you’re doing what you need to do to get there, you have to ask your self…
Why Are You Here?
Why are you doing what you’re doing?
What’s the bigger thing that drives you?
Is it because you love it or because you think you “should?”
Is it money, status, the “idea” of what it could be?
Is it the opportunity to create, to explore, to express your self?
It’s going to be different for every one.
This was the first question I ask in every subject I teach now, and it’s often one of the hardest questions for students to answer.
It’s Not Just School
This scenario applies to every thing in life. I’m not just talking about learning and degrees here. I’m talking about every thing.
Your job. Your work.
Your relationship. Your house. Your car. The money.
Why are you doing it?
What do you think it’s going to give you when you get there?
It’s All About The Journey
It’s not about the grades. That’s the end point. That’s the result of all the work.
And if the work has been a shite-fight, there’s often no joy in the outcome or the grade – even when it’s exactly what you set out to achieve, or exactly what you thought you wanted (yes, again, I’ve been there)!
It has to be about the journey.
The journey is where the learning, the inspiration, the self-expression, the creativity, the growth occurs.
The journey is where you get to sit in the present and embrace what you’re doing.
If you resent the present moment, and what you’re doing right now, then you have to consider whether 3 months of hard-slog is worth that 30 seconds of receiving your grade.
Or whether 3 years or 4 years of even-harder-slog is worth the degree, the piece of paper – when you’re then destined to another 20 or 30 or 40 years of the same stuff…the-hardest-slog-of-all.
How Do You Succeed?
If you’re studying there are going to be grades at some point – that’s just how it works. In life, your “grades” or outcome, often take a very different form. But the difference between getting by and doing really well can be achieved by…
- Finding something you love, and doing it because you want to.
- Loving the process, not just the outcome.
- Turning up consistently, over and over, not because you have to but because you want to – to every tutorial, every lecture, every extra bit of time your teacher wants to give you – because you love it and you want to learn.
- Going over and above – by doing the work, and doing the extra work, because you love it and your passion takes you there.
- Doing it your way, and having done the work so you can substantiate every thing you’ve done and every decision you’ve made to get there.
Forget The Grades
Most of the things above are either going to come naturally, or they’re not.
You can’t force them.
You can’t force your self to be passionate about some thing you just don’t love (or some one, hmmm?)
If you’re doing some thing you love, you’ll just naturally fall into some kind of flow and it will be really easy to do the work, and love the process. Because you just do.
In this case, you will easily start to lose the attachment to the grades or the outcome, because you’re just doing it because you love it, and the grades don’t really seem to matter any way.
AND, because you love it, and you put so much work into it, you’re going to get an amazing outcome because something fuelled by passion and focus and commitment is far richer than something that is forced or resented.
At the end of the day, the outcome is just a reflection and a result of the journey and how you got to where you did, because of your passion.
And, if you’re doing something you don’t love, maybe you just haven’t “found” that thing yet, and you have to keep testing and looking and trying things out.
There Will Be Some Tuff-Stuff
Even if you’re doing something you love, and you’re passionate about it, there is still going to be some tuff-stuff to figure out along the way.
It won’t be 100% smooth sailing. Especially when you’re learning or creating something new.
There will be bumps and obstacles, things you don’t understand and things that don’t work. Things that still don’t work, things that don’t work after 20 attempts, and things you finally let go of because they don’t work. There’ll be frustration and failure, and miserable failure.
But you continue through the tuff-stuff, not because you “have” to, but because you “want” to.
And on the other side of the tuff-stuff there’ll be success, and celebration, and learning and growth, and ease and flow.
The grades don’t count, but they do. The grades count, but they don’t.
PS…Whether you’re working or studying, or feeling stuck or in flow…it might be time to take a quick step back and consider WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Your Creative Journey – What do you do that you truly love? Or, what do you WANT to do that you truly love? And why the heck aren’t you doing it?
- Leave A Comment – Let me know what your true passion is and what I can do to help get THAT journey started.