Exam Results? Never give up! Never surrender!

“Never give up! Never surrender!”

Exam results can be challenging for everyone. It’s a massive day, with a big build up  and usually full of highs and lows. It’s often a public experience getting your grades in front of other students and teachers and it can mean the confirmation of your hard-worked for dreams or deep disappointment when a few marks appear to separate you from the future that you had planned.

If you didn’t get the grades you wanted, you will now need to be thinking about making changes, adapting, being flexible and continuing forward with your commitment to yourself and your future. As the title here says, one of our favourite quotes from Galaxy Quest “Never give up! Never surrender!”

In fact this is your moment. And for all students, no matter what your grades were, whether you passed or failed, made it or need to make new plans – today is about how you move forward into your future. Just remember, these exam results represent a number of different factors that all came together on your exam day. It wasn’t just about how much you knew or retained in your memory. It was about how you felt on the day, what was happening in your life, how stressed you were and how you coped with that stress. These factors and many more make up how you did. These results represent all sorts of conditions that came together on your exam days but –

They DO NOT represent your potential.

What does represent your potential – is how you handle today and go from here.

If you didn’t make the grades you wanted, now is your moment to find out how you manage disappointment. This is how me become our most resilient selves. Check out this cool talk from TED Radio hour entitled “Failure is an option” http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/487606750/failure-is-an-option

It reminds us that if we’ve never failed then we are missing an important life lesson. We are missing an important tool in our tool kit for life. Building our relationship with failure and developing our ability to tolerate and respond to it is how we learn to take risks, increase our creativity and stretch ourselves. How we pick ourselves up, recognise that we tried, learn from what has happened and decide to make the best of things right now is where our growth is happening. As Mo Farrah said after winning his fourth Olympic Gold, “I try to learn from every race.” And he went on to say that this included the races that he lost which he see’s as all part of the natural process of learning to succeed.

That’s not easy to accept when we have been given the message that achieving our exam results is our only option. The university application process is based around this assumption.

However, it is important at times like this that we don’t allow ourselves to get fooled by our mental inventions. What I mean by this is the kind of pictures we set up in our minds which say, for instance “If I’d got into X University my life would be perfect. They have the best department, the best teachers and I would have had the best career chances.” This is simply an idea. It could be true – but we don’t know that for certain. Plenty of students get to go to top notch universities and are in fact, unhappy. Things don’t work out, it doesn’t go there way, life happens. Getting into the ‘best University’ is not a sure fire recipe for success, which similarly means that not getting in doesn’t mean we can’t go on to be tremendously successful.

If you are having to go through the clearing process and readjust your plans, please remember: your life is going to be what you make of it. You may, for all we know, be about to take a turn in the road that leads you to the best place you could have found for yourself. There’s everything to play for and more than that, the resilience and commitment that you put into this process will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. The way you handle this is the way you will learn to handle other difficult times in future. Setbacks happen to everyone.

If you didn’t get the exam results that you hoped for- now is the time to find out what you are made of. We have no clue what’s ahead of you, but finding the strength not to be harsh with yourself, to pick yourself up and make a new plan will be a pivotal experience in your life. Check out this blog from Bullet Proof Musician on the 7 things we can learn from Olympic Champions about overcoming setbacks. http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/7-things-we-can-learn-from-olympic-champions-about-overcoming-setbacks-rejection/

This is another challenge within your education that you have to face. Everyone will face this challenge at some point when it comes to their exam results. We all need to face setbacks. One way to help ourselves is to find a picture of someone we admire and keep it with us. Use it when we feel down, remind ourselves that our heroes and role models have had to work hard and come back from disappointments.

The Olympics has reminded us all that achieving our dreams is hard. And we know that each of those athletes will have failed at some point in their career. That is how they’ve become the resilient high performers that they are now. This is all part of the learning process – no matter how painful it is.

If your struggling, remember to talk to someone. Share your feelings with a friend, teacher or family member. Just remember to stay focused – this is one moment in your career and at some point in the not-to-distant future, these grades will not be the key influencer in your life. You, your skills, your personality and your connections with other people will be.

“Never give up”

“Never surrender”