What failing at school taught me

Richard Parsons

Winter 1993, Basingstoke, UK.

I did ok at secondary school but generally didn’t pay enough attention and drifted along.

I ended up with mediocre grades, just enough to scrape into A’ Levels.

I then tried drifting through my A’ Levels with the same misguided approach. However A’ Levels are much less forgiving and I sleepwalked into abysmal grades.

When I was younger I had always wanted to a) run my own business and b) go to University.

Suddenly the opportunity of going to University slipped through my fingers and worst still I faced the prospect of staying in the sleepy village I’d been brought up in. It was a real punch in the guts.

So, after letting off steam in Ibiza with friends that summer, I decided to wipe the slate clean and resit my A’ Levels at another college.

New college and new start, but I was still drifting.

Then at some point during the first term, I was in the library and I stumbled across an advert for a book. A motivational guide to help students learn, revise and pass exams. It was written by a guy called Richard Parsons, who went on to make millions with his GCSE study guides empire.

Richard Parsons
How to fulfil your wildest dreams by Richard Parsons

It was a truly life changing book. It showed me how to study, focus, and succeed academically. A combination of practical tips on how to learn properly combined with a form of NLP. So I knuckled down, focussed and “applied myself” as teachers often say.

I passed my A’ Levels, went off to University and escaped the sleepy village.

I can distinctly remember the moment when I opened my exam results for the second time. I’d managed to turn things around and get myself back on track towards my goals. It was an amazing feeling.

It was a real turning point. It made me realise you don’t have to be a passive passenger putting up with what comes your way, but that you can grab the steering wheel and change outcomes. Looking back I guess it was also a lesson in not giving up and determination, fighting for what you believe in.

I had originally planned to study media at University, but based on my new found interest in mind hacks and motivation I studied psychology instead. I got my degree and kickstarted a lifelong interest in how the mind works.

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