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Are you smart?

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of The Career Agent Blog!

Years of career coaching have led me to some interesting conclusions about people's assessment of their own ability, confidence and success.

This article will help anyone who has ever doubted themselves or felt inferior to others. The first question I’d like to ask you is;

Are you smart?

Your childhood is likely to have formed your opinion of ‘how smart’ you are. So many people I coach define themselves by what they were told during their youth.

An exam mark you achieved from A – E or a Degree mark from 1st to 3rd; may have formed misconceptions about yourself.

You could be carrying this with you to this day.

I constantly challenge these misconceptions with the people I work with. It's a widespread issue that needs to be addressed.

Jack Dee

Jack Dee, the famous comedian, told a story from his school days whilst on BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2014.

Aged eight, he was struggling at his primary school and was often in trouble with the teachers.

The Headmaster, addressed the entire school, said; ‘It’s very unlikely that Jack will get into public school because he is too thick’.

Jack explained;

That was something that took a long time to shake off and I still fear that label. I find that one of the most hurtful things that could be said about anyone.”

‘Thick’ isn’t a word you would use to describe a multi-award-winning comedian, writer and actor who has been selling out stadium tours for over 20 years.

However, Jack has carried that word with him his whole life.

How do your childhood experiences compare to this?

What has stuck with you?

My experiences at school

At my secondary school I found myself in the bottom set for Maths, English and Science.

I remember particularly in English, my teachers would struggle to get me to see the double meanings of a Shakespearean play for example.

This lead to a loss in self-belief, confidence and I lowered my expectations for myself.

Now, to some extent Jack (and I) used these negative experiences to drive action – to prove to the world that he can achieve things.

However, there are so many cases where being made to think that you are not capable has a negative effect on your future.

High achievers

Conversely, I often work with people who did brilliantly well in education, but then struggle in the working world.

They are used to success and achievement, so any period of disappointment and struggle can quickly destroy their confidence.

Skills that go unnoticed at school

The wider problem with the educational system is that you get consistently judged for things that may not suit you.

Some common skills that can be under-recognised by the educational system include:

- Business acumen

- Emotional intelligence

- Ability to build relationships

- Challenging the status quo, creativity to find a better way.

Emotional intelligence and the ability to build relationships is one of the most important skills in any career.

Every great leader has it in abundance, and yet it is not widely assessed or recognized in education.

Common career choices for people who struggle at school are as follows;

- Salespeople

- Creatives (artists, carpenters etc)

- Entrepreneurs

- Entertainers (like Jack).


My point is that how smart or how capable you were at school, or at any point in your life may have been largely irrelevant.

The trick is to consistently strive to find the ideal environment that utilizes your strengths and matches your values.

Confidence will soon flood into you, then we’ll see what you’re capable of!

Finding your identity job and career that fulfills you will form a huge part of your identity and will have a positive effect on your whole life.

Stage one of our coaching service explores your strengths, values and interests.

I have worked with all sorts of people, helping them to understand what their best environment is to thrive – then how to get there.

We explore your experience and studies, to align the perfect job and career choices to bring you fulfillment.

Once you’re in an environment made for you to succeed, then great things will happen - as these stories will tell you!

Thank you for reading,

Onwards and upwards,


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