365 days - day 11 (subtitled GCSE results day, part 2)

Earlier on I made a mental list of my top 10 favourite people in all the world. Not celebrities or authors of artists, actual real live people who I know and love and with whom I want to share my time and my life.


And I thought about each of them; their personalities and their strengths and the reasons why I love them. Each had different qualities, but many shared common themes of intelligence, humour, loyalty, honesty and ethics. Those things are important to me, and that's why those people are important to me.


And then I realised that, of those 10 fabulous, wonderful people, with whom I have shared so much, there was one thing I didn't know about any of them. I had no idea at all what their GCSE results were. OK so most of them were 'O' level-ers, but you get the point. I have not the faintest idea what subjects they studied at school, how well they did, or whether or not they hit their target grades. I kind of know if any went to university, I think, but it's so unimportant to me that I can't really be sure. They only reason I know that info is because that experience might have had some bearing on our shared social history, and certainly not because the outcome is in any way relevant.


Oh, I tell a lie, I do know my husband's exam results. But that's only because I have to type them into every job application I've written for him.


I realise I now sound like some anti-establishment hippy, but that's not my point at all. I absolutely support state education, I absolutely support schools and the students studying for terminally assessed exams in order to choose the next phase of their education. The point I'm making is that exam success is only a very tiny section on the venn diagram of life, and personal success, for me, is about so much more.


As adults, we all have different views of what success means. For some it's about status - a house, a car, physical beauty, celebrity, fame, wealth. Success compared to someone or something else, an achievement of note, a lucrative business career or professional accomplishment. But for me it's also, and mostly, about how we behave towards each other - what we do with the gifts and talents we have, and how we make others feel towards us.


Not so long ago I worked with an extremely rich and successful business man. He had everything you would expect him to have, all the trappings of wealth and status, but he was a pretty poor human being. There was absolutely nothing about him that I liked, and he had nothing at all that I envied or desired. Of course that doesn't mean that wealthy and prosperous people can't do great and wonderful things that benefit others, and indeed, humanity has benefited hugely from the brilliance of many accomplished people, but the kindness of one individual to another is just as powerful in its own way.


So whilst I have my fingers crossed for every young person getting their GCSE results this week, I also hope they realise the potential they have to change the world, just by being who they already are.


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