What We Can Learn from Trouble Kids

More often than not, we hear stories of a trouble kid hitting it big in business, while the top of the class gets stuck in a miserable middle management position. What’s going on in here?

Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, and countless other successful entrepreneurs performed poorly at school. Yet, they did extremely well in business. Then, there is the top of the class kid that didn’t do well in life.

What’s going on in here? Are academic performance and success in life inversely correlated? Does a high IQ mean poor real life performance?

Not necessarily. It just means that a high IQ and academic performance don’t play a big role in real life success. There’s another factor that correlates more with real life success.

Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience plays a higher role in real life success than IQ. Sure a high IQ doesn’t hurt and it can help you progress a few more steps than the average person. However, lack of emotional resilience is lethal for real life success.

Emotional resilience is a combination of several factors. It includes courage, self-discipline, self-motivation, and decisiveness. It involves how well one deals with hardship and how well they stick with their goals no matter how though the going gets.

The typical school curriculum isn’t optimized for though times. It is optimized for performing well intellectually in a sterile environment. How does that correlate to the real world?

Unlike the typical school environment, the real world is a messy place. Real life events are chaotic and unforeseeable. Real life problems do not have multiple choice answers. As a result, the kids that succeed in school often fail in real world.

The Advantage of the Trouble Kid

The trouble kids, on the other hand, tend to succeed in real life, if they learn their lessons over the years. Their troubled past provides them with the emotional resilience they need in real world.

  • Does that mean you’re doomed if you succeeded at school?
  • Does that mean that you should drop out of college or high school as soon as possible?
  • Does that mean to get into trouble in the first opportunity?

Not at all. It means that you should pay attention to your emotional resilience too, next to your academic record.

Luckily, emotional resilience is something you can develop. No matter where you are right now, you can develop world-class courage, self-discipline, self-motivation, and decisiveness within a year. All it takes is to make the conscious effort to develop them, day in and day out.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.