Listen to most teachers -- and most parents -- and it's easy to assume that getting good grades in school is a requirement for professional success.
Tom Corley, an accountant and financial planner, surveyed a number of high net-worth individuals. Many of them are self-made millionaires.
He found most of the people surveyed did not earn high GPAs in school. In fact, only 21 percent of the self-made millionaires were "A" students. 41 percent reported they were "B" students, and 29 percent were "C" students.
That's right: More of the self-made millionaires were C students than were A students.
And if you're wondering if family background played a part, 59 percent of the self-made millionaires came from middle-class households and 41 came from poor households -- proving where you start does not dictate where you finish.
As Corley writes:
"...success in life does not come easy. It is fraught with pitfalls, obstacles, failure, and mistakes. Success requires persistence, mental toughness and emotional toughness in overcoming these pitfalls. Its pursuit pushes you to the edge emotionally and physically. You must grow a thick skin and become accustomed to struggle if you hope to succeed.
"Individuals who struggle academically may be more accustomed to dealing with struggle and making it a daily habit to overcome pitfalls."
For example, successful people are great at delaying gratification. Successful people are great at withstanding temptation. Successful people are great at overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do. (Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't scared -- that does mean they're brave. Big difference.) Successful people don't just prioritize. They consistently keep doing what they have decided is important.
All those qualities require mental strength and toughness, so it's no coincidence those are some of the qualities of remarkably successful people.
So if you didn't get great grades in school, that's OK. See the past as training. It doesn't define you. Think about what you didn't do well, about mistakes you made, but only in terms of how you will make sure that next time, you know what to do to make sure things turn out the way you want.
And never forget that "school" is really never over. Successful people are lifelong learners. As Corley also writes:
"It is now clear that one's IQ can change over their lifetime. It's not fixed. Just because you were a "C" student at age 17 with an IQ of 100 doesn't necessarily mean you will stay that way. You can increase your IQ all during your life, even into your 80s.
"Self-made millionaires do certain things every day that improve their brains and continuously increase their intelligence during their lifetimes."
And you can too.