Becoming an A-Student in Life and Business

?The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we are capable of becoming.?

-Darren Hardy


I?m back! I just finished a ten-day speaking tour where I had the good fortune to connect with many amazing audiences and individuals.

The goal of my talks was to show people how to perform at extraordinary levels in changing times. A number of times during the tour I was asked a variation on this question:

?Don?t you think some people just simply have what
it takes to succeed
while others don?t??

The short answer: no.

The long answer? Well, that takes a story? 🙂

A-Grades vs. A-Students

When my daughter Jaimie was in grade 6 (she?s just returned from her first year of university!), I remember an experience that was based in the same mistake belief?that some of us have what it takes, and some of us don?t.

My wife and I had arrived for a parent-teacher interview, and the teacher was frustrated with Jaimie?s performance. Her marks were average at best and the teacher was convinced she could do far better. We had a great discussion with as to what each of us could do to assist her.

Back at home, my wife and I sat down with Jaimie to discuss the situation. She was clearly a little defensive, and not open to how she could raise her marks. To be honest, I was a little frustrated myself. At one point I asked her, ?Are you an A student?? She abruptly responded, ?Dad, obviously I?m not or I would have all A?s.?

That?s when I had one of those ?a-ha? moments as a parent. I realized that Jaimie didn’t believe she was an A-student. Nothing we said or did would matter if she didn’t believe in the possibility for herself.

At that point, I calmed down and took a different approach. I asked Jaimie if there were any A-students in her class. As expected, there were. She gave me a name?I?ll call her Amy?and I asked, ?What does Amy do to get A?s?? She went on to give me a laundry list of everything that Amy did?doing homework immediately after school, going to the library on weekends to study, and using a tutor when she struggled with a subject. She also had to have her homework done before she was allowed to do anything else on the weekends.

I then asked her for the name of another A-student, and she told me about Tim, who was always the first to class in the morning, who arrived about an hour early every day to do homework and study, and who asked the teacher for extra help when needed. Tim was always the one in class who asked the most questions, and he always completed projects long before they were due.

I then asked her a series of important questions:

1. Are you doing the same things as Amy and Tim? I think we all know what her answer was.

2. Could you? After some coaching she agreed, and most importantly believed, she could.

3. Is it possible that you are an A-student?who is acting like a C-student?

When Jaimie realized that if she started to do more of what Amy and Tim were doing that she would raise you grades, she got it. Her body language changed, there was a more joyful sparkle in her eyes and she let down her defenses. She had just changed her belief system, and now saw possibility and hope for a better future.

I believe everyone has the right and ability to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. We all have an A-student inside us. But at times, success requires a change in our belief system which in turn can lead to a change in behaviour.

My daughter didn’t become a straight-A student. But she did dramatically improve her grades?first by believing that it was possible, and second by doing what A-students were doing. Believe me, success leaves clues.

Are people that are making five times more than you five times smarter? No. Are people that are selling five times more than you five times smarter? No. Are people that have substantially better relationships five times smarter? No. They just do different things, and produce different results.

1. Are you doing the same things as your colleagues who are more successful?

2. Could you?

3. Are you an A-performer who?s acting like C-performer?

More importantly, are you trying to get A?s, or are you trying to become an A-student?

Let us know in the comments!


There can be no darker tragedy than the death of a man’s faith in himself and his power to direct his future.

– Saul Alinsky