Hello SOTGC community,
When I was a sophomore in high school at Bishop Watterson in Columbus, Ohio, I had an amazing English teacher named Sister Margaret Hoffman. Every quarter on grade day (and I don’t mean to date myself but I will), the students would go from class to class with a carbon copied report card for the teachers to write in the grades. If you were a great student, it was a great day. If you were not a great student, it was a long and embarrassing day as all the other kids asked what grade your earned.
To help alleviate any anxiety, Sister Margaret would write a provocative phrase across the chalk board:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRADES!
Now, my husband, and probably the majority of people in Silicon Valley (where I live), definitely do not agree with this statement. But I don’t take it at face value. To me, it isn’t about your grades, it’s about your self-worth.
What Sister Margaret was pointing out is that you, as a person, are not solely defined by your grades. Nor, as you enter the workforce, are you defined by your performance reviews or project results. Of course, if your project is amazing…take the credit! But, if you have a bad review, a bad interaction at a meeting, or a project that bombs, remember that isn’t who you are at your core. You are smart, strong and resilient (i.e. not your grades).
Google has been in the news recently for telling the New York Times that SAT scores and grades alone aren’t what make people successful. Sister Margaret was clearly ahead of her time!
The other life lesson from a high school teacher that stuck with me over the years came from Mr. Frank Truitt, my junior year social studies teacher. Mr. Truitt was a college basketball coach for many years and knew how to motivate us. If anyone gave a good answer he would give them the “A” for the day. That actually meant a lot to me, so when people on my team rock it, I give them the “A” for the day. It might sound hokey, but, to me, it’s a fun way to let someone know you appreciate them.
Now these two stories may seem to contradict one another at face value. But what they both really mean is that your value as a person rests on your self-worth, inspiration, pride in your work, and knowing who you are. In other words, these stories provide perspective.
Ultimately, we end up learning so much more from our struggles and failures in life. So the next time you hit a bump in the road, remember “you are not your grades” and dust yourself off and try, try again. And then give yourself the “A” for the day for not giving up and from learning from your mistakes rather then letting them defeat and define you.
Since SOTGC was created to be a forum for discussion we’d love if you joined the conversation. Please comment with your thoughts below and have a great day.