x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Many a valuable lesson learnt from humbling failures

Life requires going through numerous tests, asking a whole bunch of questions and often comes with a side of failure, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Real-world success is frequently weighed against more than good grades and classroom attendance. Silvia Razgova / The NationalSilvia Razgova / The National
Real-world success is frequently weighed against more than good grades and classroom attendance. Silvia Razgova / The NationalSilvia Razgova / The National

It is that time of the year again. Graduation caps were tossed in the air, and I was invited to numerous graduation parties. While they all shared a grin, many also shared common beliefs about the job market that I thought to be somewhat misleading.

Many college graduates in the UAE, including my dear friends, believe that excelling in their projects, showing up to every lecture and getting the highest grade point average will land them the best job opportunities in the market.

How could anyone turn them down for having a full grade point average? They ask me.

Attending every class on time might not guarantee you a good job position with that Arabian Gulf view, and coming through that tough accounting class with flying colours does not equate to succeeding in the real world.

Success at work and in the real world is not a written formula in a maths textbook that students can revise a couple of times to pass the exam. In fact, not failing a college course does not mean that a student will not fail later in life.

These assumptions that many students hold did not come out of the blue. They are often based on common beliefs that young adults have heard constantly from loving parents or picked up while tuned in to different media platforms.

Common belief number one is that good behaviour ensures success and kicks away failure. That was great advice in the classroom. You showed up on time, did your homework and studied a couple of weeks before exams, but that does not necessarily work in your career or your business.

On the contrary, many successful people did not learn anything before they failed numerous times. Failure is often the greatest teacher. The leaders of many great corporations did not have the best grades. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, in fact, is a college dropout.

Another common belief that many high school graduates hold dearly is that career success is synonymous with attending a first-class university. Some of them even fall into depression if the likes of Harvard turn down their application.

While a big college name pasted on their job résumés might aid them when they are job-hunting, it will not necessarily guarantee that they will succeed in their careers. Many recruiters and managers look at other qualities as well, such as community service, innovation and leadership traits.

Which takes us to the belief that a college graduate can easily land a job by solely having a degree. That might have been the case in my father's time, but in our time, many recruiters are looking for people who have also been active outside of the classrooms, where most lessons are learnt.

A good piece of advice I always tell college students is to not waste their summers watching sitcom marathons, but to intern, participate in community initiatives and to network, network and network. I credit much of my success to proper networking.

Last but not least, no one is great at everything they do. When I was in college, a friend of mine made a huge fuss when she did not earn an A grade in one of our business classes. Her excuse to our professor was that she never earned anything less than an Ain her life.

The professor welcomed her to the real world, where no one is perfect at everything. He pointed out that she may have done well in other courses, but that did not mean that she had earned that A in his.

As for me, I admit that my professional strength lies in the creative field and that I am terrible when it comes to physics and maths. But failure in one area does not mean that one is a failure in general.

Parents and friends may have had good intentions when they introduced these beliefs discussed above, but they often reinforce ideas that may not aid us when we graduate and step out into the world.

Life requires going through numerous tests, asking a whole bunch of questions and often comes with a side of failure, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Looking at it positively, failure encourages us to better ourselves and our products and careers.

 

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer