In the blistering hot months of July and August thousands of young men and women in South Asia come to know of the success or failure of their venture of being A PLUS students. They, their parents – their teachers are famed or shamed.
The A PLUS students I have come across are opinionated, well aware, smart and knowledgeable. Their ambition is overwhelming and they are extremely competitive. They are outcome of an education system where the focus was to be NO.1 – to have the best grades. They have given the best part of their life in accumulating A PLUS grades – so that they and their parents are not shamed in front of their peers. So that they could go to the best colleges and universities which in turn are extremely competitive.
This competitiveness worries me. Tomorrow they are going to join the workforce where it is not always about being No. 1, where it is not always being competitive- workplace is about working together, about shared goads, shared expectations and shared success.
I have come across a large number of A PLUS students struggling at workplace despite their excellent work performance. Their struggle is due to their differences with their colleagues whom they find incompetent and their line managers whom they think are barriers to their career progression and undeserving of the position that they have. The fault usually is not with the colleagues or with the line managers – but with the A PLUS student who does not know how to be a good team player, who cannot reconcile to the fact that perfection is a myth not a reality, cannot accept diversity in work styles and thinking, does not like to be challenged, cannot be social to people who are not up to their standards and cannot bear to be told that they have problems. These A PLUS students change jobs endlessly and lead a miserable and at times disastrous life. There are fortunate ones who get mentors who can help them in their ordeals but then some of them even shun the mentors.
Getting an A PLUS is an achievement but making it a venture is our education system failing. An A PLUS student recently could not get a job at a prestigious firm as in the group discussion he did not let anyone talk. Another A PLUS student has been to 21 interviews but has not been selected. Academically he is a star. His interviewers however are not looking for an academic star – they are looking for someone who has a good academic background but has a life beyond academics, read newspapers, is social, can communicate, can listen, can negotiate, can dream, can be innovative – for whom the venture is not to be A PLUS individually but to be an asset of an A PLUS organization!