The downfall of the underachievers

Are you hitching a ride to success?

By Margaret Matthews, Contributor

“Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” was a saying by which I was raised, and I have always subscribed to that paradigm. Whether you’re washing a car, mowing a lawn, or involved in any other endeavour, give it your best shot. The results will give you confidence, in addition to making your parents proud.

My parents, who were both professionals, admonished my siblings and myself that if we aimed high, we might just fall a little short of our target but the desire to overachieve would motivate us to do our best. If students don’t make a concentrated effort to reach high and earn good grades, they are likely to remain just an average or below-average student.

When I entered high school, it was evident who the top students in the class were. These students were Type A personalities, and were driven by inner motivation and self-discipline. Their personal habits were soon evident in that they were never late to class, their assignments were always submitted on time, they participated in class discussions, made notes during the class, and had insightful comments to make during discussions. Their active engagement oftentimes spurred other students to be similarly engaged.

Then there were the underachievers, who could be identified during the first few weeks of the semester. These students were Type B personalities. Oftentimes they hung around with the smart or diligent students, and sometimes wanted to copy their homework, or asked them to do it for them. They figured that if they got a passing grade, that was good enough for them, as they would also pass and be accepted into the next grade like their overachieving peers.

Their rationalization is: why bother to put all that extra effort into earning an A? We both pass and get into the next level.

However, that’s where the buck stops. If, by some fluke of the imagination, these underachievers wanted to enter the fields of medicine, law, engineering, or any other prestigious profession, their transcript of C grades would disqualify them from acceptance into university to study any such disciplines.

Is it worth putting all the extra effort into your studies to achieve prestige in your profession, or do you want to just drift along, doing mediocre jobs with little job security? Do you value yourself and your self-esteem? There is potential for growth in everyone, but one has to make the effort to do so.

At the end of the day, the achievers can rest on their laurels, and enjoy the satisfaction of self-fulfillment in utilizing their day profitably, while the indolent ones regret having wasted their hours unproductively.