I never did well at school, but now I work with key clients from Google. I was probably one of the worst three kids in my class, and in the end I had to change school. The other two are also doing fine nowadays, as far as I know — they’re creative and successful guys. The worst kid in one of the other classes, with whom we used to spend a lot of time in the toilets (we were often kicked out of class, and we used to hide in there) is now a famous football player.
The biggest underachiever in my class became a long-distance sailor. In the last year he’s been to Latin America twice, traveled halfway around the world, and recently had his first child. Always remember: grades don’t mean anything.
I was a confirmed underachiever in an ordinary high school. I trailed behind everyone else in every subject apart from music and art. Now I work for a large company based in Madrid. I have an unusual job: I’m a traffic broker (a media buyer). I also have a rare specialization. I’d be surprised if you could find even a hundred of us in all of Europe. I teach digital marketing in a prestigious Spanish high school. Now I look back and think about my literature teacher who always told me I’d end up in some dead-end job. And I laugh!
Our underachiever works as a neurosurgeon. He got up to some real disruptive stuff at school and performed poorly in his studies. He was a big heavy metal fan. By the time he was in 9th grade, he was helping his mom in her work as an editor for a lifestyle magazine. After he finished school, he went to a medical college, worked as an ambulance medic, and then went to a medical academy. He graduated, and now he’s a well-respected doctor. He still listens to heavy metal, though, and even plays in a band.
I’m the founder and owner of my own company. I changed school seven times and was always getting C’s and D’s. I never wanted to engage with those subjects I found boring, and that included most of the sciences. In 10th grade, I simply stopped attending certain classes. Nowadays, all of my childhood friends have ordinary jobs: managers, drivers, sales people. Nothing stands out among them. It’s just the same for all those who got straight A’s.
My uncle was a terrible underachiever, especially in chemistry. His teacher couldn’t stand him and predicted he would live a life of failure sweeping floors for a living. Years later, my uncle learned that chemistry is actually the most fascinating subject of all; he began to feel that it was his calling in life. So he went on to graduate from university in the subject, defending his thesis successfully. He was recently invited to give a presentation at a conference. When he was speaking, my uncle noticed there was some kind of fuss in the back rows of the auditorium. He soon learned that it was his old teacher who all but fainted from shock when she recognized him.
I always finished last in my class in terms of grades. I didn’t really get D’s, but I did get a lot of C’s. But after I finished school, I ended up getting an honors degree, then a second degree. I worked for two and a half years in a large company, and then I ran my own business for three years. Now I’m thinking about how I can make the world a better place. I speak Russian and Japanese fluently, I’m learning to play the violin, I practice yoga, and I’m working on developing and educating myself further. All of this has shown me that grades don’t mean anything.
Many of my student friends who got quite low grades at university are now riding around in their own cars, having settled into their own homes. They have kids, families. I left university with an honors degree. I work all the time, but I only have just enough money to pay the rent — never for anything fun. Something’s gone wrong here. Something’s not right.
I can tell from 3 meters away and through frosted glass that my collection of hourglasses aren’t standing in perfect order. I notice every change in the makeup, clothes, and manners of my friends and acquaintances. I can determine the exact distance of things from 600 meters away, with an accuracy of 3 meters. I can determine the distance of a moving target from 300 meters. It’s all thanks to seven years spent training as an intelligence officer. And I left school only with D grades.
There were three real underachievers in my class at school. One ended up founding a charity and has now provided real help to hundreds of people. The second works as an executive editor for a major newspaper. The third is me, a full-time writer for a major magazine and also a sports columnist.
Right up until 11th grade I only ever got C’s, sometimes D’s, and I resat many exams. Seven years passed. Yesterday, I hired someone who used to be in my class. She always got straight A’s and has an honors degree.