Gold star stickers

Have you ever felt terrible about a bad grade? I’m going to guess the answer is yes. I have a quick question for you; what did you learn through the process of earning an awful grade? Was the worse grade worth the lesson? Let me explain through meandering anecdote.

In 7th grade I was in an engineering/design tech class, and our first project of the year was building a car that would travel down a string with a limited materials list. The materials list included a balloon and a straw. The solution was obvious, glue the balloon to the straw, blow up the balloon and let it go. Most of the other components weren’t needed.

Little Danny wouldn’t settle for his string car to be so boring though. Instead of making a car powered by balloons, I tried making one powered on rubber bands with wheels driving it down the track. I was so proud; I was trying something different. All those other kids, all making the same balloon car, they didn’t look past the obvious and try something new. I was so proud, until my car didn’t work.

Between the high rolling friction of the foam wheel and the rubber band gear set making too much torque/no speed, my car only went inches. I learned a few lessons on that project, but at the end of the day standard balloon cars got A’s. I got a D. The systems and powers that be will not reward you for trying something new and failing, it’s not in their nature and not in their job description. The project’s goal was to make the fastest string car. Mine was not, therefore my grade reflected.

Where the real magic happens is the lesson learned. You can try something new, fail, and come to various solutions. Option 1: You can decide that trying something new was the culprit to a bad grade, color within the lines, stay inside the box, and be happy when the powers that be give you a gold star sticker.

Option 2: You can decide that the opportunity to learn something new is worth more than the letter grade, keep pushing the limits, bask in the light of both success and failure, and be the powers that be in your life.

Find the courage to stand on your own. It’s worth it.

Danny Lykens

Entrepreneur, Engineer, Artist. You'll either find Danny in his startup's office, or running in the woods. He is a tinkerer who realised passions can become careers, and that happiness lies in doing what you love.

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