Obviously good grades are important but at the end of the day, they do not always equal success. They can help get you into the University of your choosing and certainly, a high GPA is some example of the hard work and effort you have put into your studies. But they’re not the only marker of one’s knowledge, talent, or work ethic.
Cabell Harris has had a successful career in Advertising for 36 years and owned his own branding and advertising agency for almost 25 years, surely he was a remarkable student. Right?
No. I was awful. I had several learning disabilities including ADD and Dyslexia. In those days, not only did you not address these learning disability acronyms, you actually hid them. Doing so, however, teaches you to over-compensate in other areas.
I was always interested in Art. For many years I was even considered the “class artist” until eventually someone better came along. I wanted to be a Commercial Artist since the 1st grade. I didn’t even really know what a Commercial Artist was back then but a man at my church did that for a living, so that’s the term I used. I didn’t even really understand advertising until my years at VCU studying Mass Communications. Even then, advertising was never really addressed by my professors. I actually stumbled upon it while perusing Art Directors Annual and Communication Arts & Design while in the library.
When I returned years later to visit my professors, I asked to see some of their work. I thought it strange that I had never come across any in these magazines and wondered why they had never entered their own work. It was horrible. That’s why. It was a real point of enlightenment for me. These teachers didn’t even seem to be aware of what good work was out there, much less have some of their own to show. I realized then that you have to be your own judge of good and bad work. Yours and others’. You have to be a seeker. Search for good work, for inspiration. Ask yourself why it’s good, or why it’s not. And be open to learning from your successes AND your failures.
Ultimately, Cabell was, in fact, a good student. And still is. Maybe his grades didn’t always reflect that but his attitude did. He never stopped learning, never stopped questioning, never stopped looking for inspiration or judging his own work. You don’t stop being a student when people stop grading you. You should never stop looking for inspiration. Keep learning. Keep seeking.