“You never fail until you stop trying.” – Toms story

The young Tom

The young Tom – inspiring us even then

I am not sure when I first met Tom but it was certainly early on in his studies. Tom was not your typical accountancy student, he was slightly older and perhaps more reflective, the two points may be related. Students studying for professional accountancy exams are probably around 25 and focused very much on looking forward, not back.

Tom started his exam journey in November 2009, his first 2 papers went well and he passed them first time. You need to pass 10 exams broken down over three levels if you want to become a member of the Chartered Institute of management accountants (CIMA).  Boosted by this Tom decided to sit the next 4 papers all at once, something he now thinks was a mistake, he passed just the one. By the end of 2011 however he had passed the other 3. That was 6 papers and two levels complete, Tom was back on track.

“Even though the ship may go down, the journey goes on.” – Margaret Mead

2012 was not a great year for Tom on a personal level which almost certainly had an impact on his performance in the exam room. As a result the whole of that year went by with only one exam success. Between 2012 and 2013 Tom sat one of the remaining papers three times and the other one six times, to quote Tom, that’s six, count them 1…..2….3…..4…..5…..6….. He finally passed that paper in November 2013.

It’s probably worth pausing at this point, how would you feel if you sat an exam twice and failed, let alone 6 times. At this stage your biggest enemy is your own mental attitude. You begin to question your ability, your intelligence and even your choice of career. On top of this is the boredom and stress of having to study the same exam over and over again, trying to do something different, fearing if you don’t you will get the same result. And of course as many of you will know when you are studying your life is on hold, making decisions about work, family/friends is difficult as you need to put your studies first.

In fact Tom did consider giving up, but there were two reasons he didn’t. One the support of his teacher, Maryla who remained positive throughout whilst working with Tom on what he needed to do to improve, and two Toms stubborn attitude, his determination and desire to get something good from all the hard work he had put in so far. To quote Tom, “all I kept thinking was I have lost so much because of this bloody course I have to get something positive from it.” When Tom finally passed that paper he felt excited, and as if he had slain a personal demon.

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” – William Ward

With only one paper to go Tom was still to face a number of challenges, and it was far from plain sailing.  Knowing a large amount of detail was essential for the earlier papers, now it was all about the big picture, prioritisation and time management.

He was told that gaining the qualification would open doors … So he imagined an open door, on the other side were green fields, money, cars, holidays, being the boss. This focus really helped motivate him to see it through. He passed his last exam on the 29th of May 2015.

It had taken Tom 6 years, in which he had sat in the exam room approximately 22 times. This is not the story of someone who always knew he would pass, destined for success nor of a naturally gifted student who simply needed the right motivation to bring out his talent. This is about what you can achieve if you are willing to make sacrifices, give everything you have and learn from failure.

Congratulations Tom you deserve your success.

 

Big fish – little pond

Best be a Big fish in a Small pond

It’s taken me a little time to get round to reading the latest Malcolm Gladwell (MG) book, David and Goliath, underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants. Although consisting of three separate sections they all examine the idea of what it means to have an advantage and how we account for the success of the underdog.

Of all the ideas MG lays before the reader, the one I felt was of most interest is something called the big fish little pond effect (BFLPE) and the theory of relative deprivation.

Relative deprivation theory (RDT)

Relative deprivation refers to the discontent people feel when they compare their positions to others and realise they have less. e.g. I judge BMW ownermyself to be successful on the basis I have a brand new car that cost £15,000.  That is until my neighbour pulls on the drive with a brand new BMW costing £30,000, now how successful do I feel?

MG applies this theory to the world of academia. If you take Harvard’s Economics PhD programme and consider the number of times each PhD graduate was published in the last 6 years, Harvard’s top students will do this 4.31 times. Those that are about 5th or 6th in the class publish .71 times and those that are about average .07 times. If however you compare these results to a “mediocre” school, say the University of Toronto, where MG went,  the top students will publish 3.13 times, those that are 5th or 6th .29 times and those that are average .05 times. The point being that students who attend a much lesser university but where they are top of their group perform considerably better than the 5/6th best at Harvard. The question is why?

The smarter your peer group the dumber you feel…..

This is where RDT comes in, we tend to judge our ability by comparing with others, and if you are in a class with very smart people who always do better than you, your perception of your own ability will be effected. The second problem is that this self perception will have a significant impact on your behaviour and ultimately what you achieve, hence the results above. The implication, you will achieve more if you are in a class with others of equal or less ability than yourself.

Bottom line, your performance will improve if you are a big fish in a small pond. It’s even called, the big fish little pond effect (BFLPE)

But what to do?

Admittedly you can’t always pick and choose your peer group, but you can be aware that comparing yourself with the very best may be having a detrimental impact on your own performance, so stop doing it! Instead be inspired by the best but compare your performance with those that are the same as you. Better still compare your current performance with what YOU have achieved in the past and if you are doing better you must be improving…..

David-and-Goliath-Malcolm-Gladwell

 

Listen to MG talking about relative deprivation theory or if you prefer the Big Fish little pond theory….

 

Listen to MG being interviewed about the book

Carrots and sticks – Motivation and the thinking Donkey

Donkey carrot and stickMotivation is one of those topics that is so important to learning and passing exams that we will constantly keep coming back to it.

If you are motivated when studying then you will study for longer, more frequently and be more focused.

As a result I have written about motivation in the past Motivation – How to want to study, Rocky boxing No – it’s about motivation to name but two.

I have always liked the simple idea that if you want to motivate someone to do something then you give them a reward (carrot) or a punishment (stick). You will probably have used carrot and stick techniques on yourself. If I answer these exam questions by the weekend I will have Sunday off or if I don’t answer these exam questions by the weekend then I won’t have Sunday off.

But are we more complicated?

In his book Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us, Daniel H Pink (a former Al Gore speech writer) argues that there are in fact three motivational systems. One survival , motivated to eat, drink and reproduce. Two, seek reward and avoid punishment, the so called carrot and stick and three, intrinsic  motivation, the idea that motivation comes from within not from external stimuli.

These are not mutually exclusive, you are still motivated to eat, drink and reproduce, equally carrots and sticks do work, but what are these intrinsic motivators.

Type X and Type I

Type X behaviour is fuelled more by extrinsic desire, how much money will I get, I don’t want to have to work Sunday, this fits with carrot and stick. Type I behaviour requires intrinsic motivation and is concerned with the satisfaction gained from an activity. Pink argues that extrinsic motivation works better for algorithmic/routine tasks that require little cognitive processing. But if you have to think, understand, create then intrinsic motivation is more effective. Got it……

And the point is……

Studying and learning require a huge amount of cognitive processing (It is a type I behaviour) and so rather than using carrot and stick motivators you would be better using intrinsic ones. Pink explains that intrinsic motivators can be broken into Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

  • Autonomy – This can be achieved by making your own decisions as to how you study when you study, rather than listening to others or being rewarded for doing it. It’s about taking ownership.
  • Mastery -This is a mind set and involves you believing that what you are learning is not something in isolation but contributing to a greater and longer term skill set.
  • Purpose – This links nicely back to goals, which has been the topic of previous blogs. You must feel that what you are learning has some value and purpose possibly beyond simply passing the exam. Will it help you do your job better etc

Motivation can be difficult to understand, personally I feel that it does come from within (intrinsic), it’s my desire to do something not someone else’s and so the argument that you should not use carrot and stick (extrinsic ) type rewards makes a whole lot of sense.

Let me know what you think….?

Listen to Daniel H Pink at TED And an RSA animated lecture 

Reflection/Goals/Planning……Inspiration and bravery

2013_time100_yousafzaiIt’s nearly the start of a New Year 2014, traditionally a time for both reflection, taking stock of what went well/not so well and looking forward to what the future might hold. On the whole this is a healthy process, looking back gives you chance to put things into perspective and hopefully learn a few lessons, whilst looking forward gets you thinking about what you might like to happen and set goals to make those events more likely.

Looking back on 2013, one event that stood out for me was the nomination of Malala Yousufzai for the Nobel peace prize in November 2013*. It is not the nomination that is important but the fact it provided a reason to revisit the incredible story of one little girls determination to have an education, something that many of us are fortunate enough to be given for free or at least freeish!

Reflection – The story in brief

By 1997, the year in which Malala was born her father Ziauddin Yousufzai had been running a private girls school for several years in the Swat

A classroom in Swat valley

A classroom in Swat valley

district of Pakistan. This was before the Taliban took over. At the end of 2008 the local Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, issued a warning, all female education had to cease within a month, or schools would suffer consequences. Malala was 11 and supported by her father started an anonymous blog for the BBC Diary of a Pakistan school girl.”  The blog stopped after only 10 weeks as Malala had to leave Swat. Although clearly influenced and inspired by her father Malala had a voice of her own and one that was now being heard outside Pakistan, she was passionate about education, especially for women. A documentary by the New York Times bought the story to a wider audience.

 All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one. 

But on the 9th of October 2012 when Malala was just 15 two men boarded her school bus and asked “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all” The other girls looked at Malala, innocently identifying her; she was shot in the head and neck and left for dead. She was initially flown to a military hospital in Peshawar and then onto the Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital in the UK where she had further operations and continued her recovery.

They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in (the) home, school or any place. 

On 12 July, nine months after the shooting, came a major milestone. Malala stood up at the UN headquarters in New York and addressed a specially convened youth assembly. It was her 16th birthday and her speech was broadcast around the world.

Goals and Planning

Malala wanted to be a Doctor, but wanting to be a Doctor is not an effective goal, it’s a wish or desire, it was outside her control. What was within her control was to work hard, motivate herself and fight for the education she deserved.

Malala wanted to be a Doctor but events changed all that, a bullet intended to kill her sent her down a different path. Now she wants to be a politician, not a goal but a wish, driven perhaps by a deep routed desire to help people less fortunate than herself. Yet those same goals of hard work, motivation and learning will equally help turn this wish into a reality.

Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.

And so to 2014

When thinking back on 2013, learn from your mistakes, maybe the exams (life in general) didn’t go as well as you might have hoped. But don’t Happy New Yearask why, ask what have I learned and so need to do differently in 2014. Remember when setting those goals make sure they are within your control and take inspiration from the story of a brave little girl who worked hard, motivated herself and most of all believed in the importance of education.

  Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. 

Ps

Malala is now working hard for her GCSE’s incidentally at the same school as my daughter.

Well worth watching – BBC – Shot for going to school.

And the *Nobel Peace Prize 2013 was awarded to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.

50 shades of Grade…..Measuring students worth

I don’t often write specifically about the market that I am most closely involved, that of accountancy training and education. But there does seem to be an anomaly in the way the accountancy world measure success that isn’t the case in many other professions and examinations.

To become a qualified accountant in the UK (ACCA, ICAEW,CIMA etc,  yes there are more) you have to pass a number of demanding examinations and submit evidence of practical experience. The exams are taken over 3 years and everything rests on a number of exams of 100 marks each, of which you need to get 50%. The pass rate for accountancy students varies from paper to paper but is around 60% In training and education terms these exams are often referred to as High stake exams. For some failure is not simply a setback in terms of time, it could result in a lost job.

50% good – 49% bad

The purpose of such exams (including the practical experience) is of course to ensure that those that pass are competent. But how competent….?  It seems that you are either competent or not, if you get 49% you are not competent, if you get 50% then you are. This makes the margin for error very high, many a career has taken a dramatic turn based on 1 mark. Now of course in any exam there has to be a point where someone succeeds and another fails but does competence not have many shades to it, is it not a continuous process rather than a discreet one.

Shades of Grade

You may be one of thousands of students (>300,000 actually) who have just had your A level results. But of course you don’t just pass or fail, in fact this has not been the case since 1963, even before then there was an indication of the mark. You are given a grade from A through to E and all are considered a pass, 98.1% passed their A levels this year.

And the grades refer to the marks e.g. E is 40%, a D is 50%, a C is 60%, a B is 70% and an A is 80%. A similar grading exists for Degrees, 2.1, 2.2 etc and for Law exams, Pass, Commendation, Distinction.

No pressure for excellence

So why is this not the case in accountancy? To be honest I am not sure. But by introducing grades above a pass you not only provide employers with a better indication of competency, you encourage colleges to teach to a higher and deeper level, motivated by the students who want to learn more. And that for me is the most important point; you create an incentive for students to try harder. At the moment if you are scoring 55% then why put in more work, a pass is a pass, but a distinction well that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Of course the market will adjust its perception of what a pass means, for example employers may only want students with a distinction rather than a simple pass, but they have always looked and will continue to look for differentiation, at least this is a meaningful one.

What it does not do is fix the 49% you fail problem, and careers will still hinge on 1 mark, but that unfortunately is the way with exams and the reason exam technique is so important.

So to all the accountancy examining bodies why not introduce grades – grey is good and isn’t it an accountants favourite colour?

Rocky boxing No – it’s about motivation

In 1976 a relatively unknown actor, Sylvester Stallone, wrote and starred in Rocky, a film that grossed $225m and won three Oscars. What a success story, “unknown actor becomes a star overnight”. But there is another story, the story as to how Sylvester Stallone came to write the script and got to star in the film.

This is even more interesting and it’s not about boxing or Hollywood it’s about motivation.

I wrote about motivation back in January 2012, but it is so important because it impacts on your ability to study and as a result exam success I think we should explore it in more detail.

If you’re motivated you will work harder, study longer and if you study longer guess what, you significantly improve your chances of passing.

In my earlier blog I described motivation as the wants, needs and beliefs that drive an individual towards a particular goal or perceived outcome. I went on to talk specifically about goals and how to set them, but there is much more to being motivated than simply setting goals.

A structure to help with motivation

I recently came across a framework* that provides a great way to think about motivation.

Engage – with yourself

Firstly ask yourself a few simply questions. How come you have got this far, what has been your motivation, what is it you want and why do you think that passing this exam will help you? Okay the idea of talking to yourself might seem odd, but trust me its normal.

If you can identify what it is that has motivated so far and there will be something, you can use it to motivate yourself even more.

Stallone recognised in himself a hunger to be an actor; he fed that hunger because he knew that it would help him succeed.

Structure

This is where the goal setting fits in. Set yourself a goal, exactly how to do this is described in detail in my January blog. Click here motivation – how to want to study.

Most thoughts and ideas have structure, motivation is no different.

Stallone clearly had a goal, it was vivid, very much within his control and positive, something he wanted as appose to something he didn’t want.

Relevance

Ask why is this goal important to me? What will it give me that I don’t have now? Repeat the questions several times, what pictures do you see?

The goals that you set have to be relevant to you, they have to have meaning for you, they are personal.

There was something that made wanting to be an actor highly relevant for Stallone. From this story we are not exactly sure what it is, just that it was powerful.

Beliefs

What do you believe about yourself, do you believe you’re clever or not? Do you believe you should pass? What do you believe will make the difference to your exam success?

Beliefs are probably the most important element of motivation. As Henry Ford once said “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” Challenge what you believe and ask yourself one very simple question – Does this belief help me achieve my goal or not – if not change it!

Stallone had a huge amount of self belief; he first turned down $250k, said no to $325k and finally accepted $35! Ask yourself would you have done that, honestly I don’t think I would.

Listen to Tony Robbins tell the Stallone story

Click this link to hear Tony Robbins, I would recommend you listen, it’s well worth it.

 

 

 

*A framework for motivation – Motivational Drivers, Alan McLean

Motivation – How to want to study

2012, another year and an opportunity to set some New Year resolutions, but how many will you keep, and why won’t you keep them? It’s not because you don’t want to, it’s not because they are not important. But somehow you just don’t want them enough; you lack the motivation to make them happen.

Just imagine if you woke up every morning jumped out of bed and said, “I can’t wait to start studying today.” How much would you learn if that was the way you felt? Well, that’s what it would be like if you were motivated. The interesting thing is that motivation can be learned, just like anything else. With the right techniques you can improve your desire to want to study.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar

What is motivation?

Motivation can be thought of as the wants, needs and beliefs that drive an individual towards a particular goal or perceived outcome. It will generally result in affecting a person’s behavior: they will do something as a result.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins

Motivation is about setting goals

If motivation is about being driven towards a particular goal, then, to be motivated, you must set a goal or outcome in such a way that it invades your thoughts and affects your actions. In principle, then motivation is about goal-setting. You cannot be motivated if you don’t want something.

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.

How to set goals

The process that you go through in order to set goals is important, below is an easy to follow guide as to what questions you need to ask to set motivational goals.

1. What do you want? State the goal in positive terms, what you want, not what you don’t want.

This needs to be something you want, so, saying “I don’t want to fail my exams” needs to be changed to “I want to pass my exams.”

2. What will you accept as evidence that you have achieved your outcome? – Make it real

  •  Ask – How will you know that you have this outcome? What will you see, what will you hear, how will you feel? or

So if your objective is to pass your exams, perhaps you would see yourself opening the letter and it showing a clear pass, you hear yourself shout “yes” and you feel so proud or maybe just relieved.

3. Is achieving this outcome within your control? –  Must not depend on others

  •  Ask – Is this something which you can achieve? Or does it require OTHER people to behave in a certain way?

If the answer to what do you want was, “To pass my exams,” then, when you get to this point it will become clear that this outcome is not achievable by you. To pass the exam, you need the examiner to consider your script worthy of a pass. So the outcome needs to be refined to smaller outcomes that can be achieved by you. E.g. “I want to practice more questions.” This is within your control.

4. Are the costs and consequences of obtaining this outcome acceptable?  – What do you gain and lose as a result of achieving your outcome?

  •  Ask – What are the advantages of making this change?
  • Ask – What are the disadvantages of making this change?

This will help identify if what you want (your outcome) is really best for you and the balance of your life? If you achieve your outcome, how will your life be affected?

5. And then….. Write them all down

 A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

Ayn Rand

And finally – The E word

Many of my blogs, including this one contains extracts from my book “The E word,” the book about how to pass exams.

You can buy this book now at Amazon.

PS Want to know what the guys from Apple think text books should look like – check out this video

It’s a Wonderful Life – lifelong learning

In 1946 Frank Kapra made what is arguably the best Christmas film of all time, it’s a Wonderful Life. It tells the story of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) who on Christmas Eve gets drunk after being told that there is a warrant out for his arrest for bank fraud.  In a moment of despair he threatens to throw himself into an icy cold river, believing that this will solve all his problems. He is interrupted by Clarence, his guardian angel (second class) who appears and jumps into the water before him. George is forced to rescue Clarence but does not believe that he is his guardian angel and wishes that he had never been born.

And so the scene is set for Clarence to show George that the world would be a very different place had he not been born. Had he not saved his brother from drowning, stopped Mr Gower (the local pharmacist) giving out a lethal prescription and put his dream of travelling the world on hold to run the local bank (Savings and loan).

George was a man with ambition and drive, he constantly put others before himself, in every way a good man. But as can often happen he found himself in situations that he had not expected, arguably did not deserve, that at the time seemed impossible to solve.

Lifelong learning

We often think that studying is something that you do when you are young and then when you have learned everything by the age of say 25/30, you sit back and relax!  Of course this is not true, learning is a lifelong pursuit. It may not always have an exam at the end, but there are lessons to learn and successes and failures to deal with in equal measure. A Wonderful Life follows the ups and downs of George Bailey and in one way is sad because he never does fulfil his ambition to travel. But he learns so many other things along the way, perhaps most importantly that some of the smaller things you do have a huge impact on others and that when faced with apparent failure or disappointment there is always a solution, and it’s not jumping off a bridge…

So perhaps you didn’t get the exam results you wanted or didn’t get a place at university but this is only a moment in time. It is not the end of the journey; it’s just a different beginning.

Steve Jobs tells a great story about “Joining the dots” how you can only join the dots backwards not forwards. Had he not dropped out of Reed College and wondered into a calligraphy class one day then in Steve’s words “the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

So wherever you are in your lifelong learning class, have a very Merry Christmas.

A lesson for today’s bankers

When faced with the bank collapsing George Bailey put in his own money to save it. A modern day lesson for some of today’s greedy bankers perhaps. Sir Fred Goodwin, please note….

Be more like Scrooge – a tale for Xmas

A Christmas Carol was first published by Chapman & Hall (a company that was subsequently owned by Wolter Kluwer who I worked for many years later – small world!) on the 19 of December 1843. It tells the story of a miserly old man Ebineezer Scrooge who following a visit from his dead business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come, changes his whole attitude towards Christmas, money, people and ultimately life.

What is interesting is that Scrooge was not born a miser, there was a time when he was young and in love, he was to be married to his fiancée Belle. Yet because of his desire for wealth, a thirst for money that could never be satisfied and his workaholic lifestyle she married another. This together with the way he was treated by his father and the death of his sister Fran are provided as events that turned Scrooge into a tight fisted, cold hearted and greedy man.

He met Jacob Marley whilst in apprentership probably as an accountant (I started my career in an accountancy practice!) They formed Scrooge and Marley a nineteenth century financial institution; they were bankers who made money from lending to others at very high rates of interest. They cared little for the people they lent money too, only that they turned a profit. One can only assume that modern day bankers never read A Christmas Carol. If Fred (the shred) Goodwin had been gifted this book as a small child, perhaps RBS would never have posted their £24.1bn record breaking loss, and if some people are to be believed the financial meltdown in the UK would have been far less sever, but I digress.

Change

It could be argued that Scrooge was a victim of his upbringing, he could not change, it was who he was and that is how he would always be. Yet when shown key events from his past and present and what would happen should he continue to behave the same, he decided to change. Change his behavior, change his attitude, change who he was, and he did it overnight!

Okay being visited by three terrifying ghosts that vividly portray how your entire life has been selfish and pointless might be considered a drastic measure. But it shows that if you want to do something, you can. If the motivation is strong enough, wherever that motivation comes from, you can do whatever you want.

So as 2010 comes to an end think back over the past twelve months, have you achieved what you wanted, are you happy with where you are now and where you might be going if you continue to do the same things, If not, then change.

You don’t need to make massive life changing decisions as Scrooge did. Small behavioral changes can be just as effective, studying before you go to work rather than after work might help you absorb more and improve your concentration. Start using mind maps and colours when preparing your notes, this will help make them more memorable. Even before you begin to study a new subject take a look at the exam question and have a go at it, you might be surprised how well you do. And if you can’t do it nothing is lost, at least when you come to look at the text you will have an idea as to what to pay more attention to.

See Scrooge after his decision to change http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7NfDuDh0Uc&feature=related

On many levels Scrooge was very successful, he was driven, motivated, single minded, ruthless and rich. I am sure if he went on the apprentice he would win!

But perhaps his greatest s skill was that he was able to change.

Merry Xmas all

Be proud of trying hard

There has been much in the media about schools and education recently and Michael Gove the Education secretary has been making the headlines with comments like “Rich thick kids do better than poor clever children when they arrive at school (and) the situation as they go through gets worse.”   

The Institute of Education tested children aged 22 months and again at the age of six years. It found that on average toddlers with low ability from the richest homes overtook high achieving children from the poorest backgrounds within a few years. The gap widens throughout school, research has found. By the age of 16, children eligible for free school meals are half as likely to get five decent GCSEs as pupils from wealthier backgrounds. 

For the government there are clearly problems here, if you wish to have a society that provides equality and opportunity for all regardless of your background then something is going wrong. However what struck me was the implication that after being tested at 22 months you should be successful at school, because at 22 months you had ability. How exactly do you measure ability at 22 months anyway? 

This is not a story about rich verses poor, and how the rich are using their sharp elbows to force their way to the top. This is a story about how anyone, almost regardless of ability can go onto achieve if they try, work hard, have the right environment, are motivated and inspired. The implication is that this message and these qualities are being provided by the parents of the “Thick rich kids” or they are paying for it outside of the traditional classroom. 

Trying hard

I sometimes think that trying hard or putting in a lot of work is thought of as not as impressive as being naturally talented. Yes it is great to see someone who has a natural talent, performing to the best of their ability, but show me a top sportsperson who, regardless of talent does not have to work hard and put in hours and hours of practice. If you pass an exam you should be proud of how much effort you put in and how hard you worked. The student who has more ability and fails but is happy, knowing they could have put in more work has much to learn.

So please celebrate hard work and be proud of what you have achieved knowing that you got their by working as hard as you could.