I remember sitting at a Starbucks recently and overhearing a conversation between some patrons who appeared to be in their mid-30s behind me. They also appeared to have attended the same high school, and were meeting up for a coffee after a while seeing each other. I’m typically one to try using earphones to block off the world around me in coffee shop situations. On this day, however, I happened to not be wearing my headphones. Although their discourse was a bit noisy and distracting, I could not help but eavesdrop a bit and glean some wisdom. I might as well learn a bit if their discourse waltzes into my personal space right?
Their point of discussion also turned out to be pretty interesting. They were analyzing the lives of some people they had gone to high school with and what they are doing now. They went through the typical roll call, going name after name, laughing about the somewhat interesting and unfortunate events some of their peers had been through, critically, like humans do (thanks, David Byrne), celebrating others, and then, expressing their amazement at how some of the most troublesome and acclaimed unintelligent people had turned their lives around, achieved an unprecedented level of success and impacted society positively.
I will summarize the point of this post in as few sentences as I can. Compliance is your ability to follow instructions, take guidance and grit through a model that has been created for you to follow. Confidence is your ability to take what you have learnt, are talented or skilled at, and use that to create value that makes an impact. Both are equally important but there needs to be a decent combination of compliance and confidence for an individual to be successful. The education system, or model only guarantees for compliance. The fact that an individual did not comply enough through the system does not mean that they cannot take their talent, skills and learnings, and be confident enough to create value that makes an impact, in turn, being successful.
Let’s learn to be a bit less perplexed when someone who did not comply with the system exercises confidence and becomes a rolling stone. Brighten the corner where you are.
Below is an illustration from Zen Pencils on a valedictory speech by an excellent graduating student. Enjoy.