Labels + Lessons

One of the main departures from high school prematurely whilst only 2 months into A-Levels in the UK was the experience of ‘labelling’. I’m not talking about fashion labels, but those kinds of labels that put you in a box (or at least attempt to).

I’d enrolled in 3 x Advanced Levels (a 2-year pre-requisite for University at the time) one of which was in Sports Science. One day our small class was by the basketball court having just completed a 3-hour session with the A-Level sports science teacher.

This was the first time he’d watched us. He proceeded to call us out one by one and gave us one of three letters. A, B, or C.

I was up next. Here is what he said.

“C”…“If you pull out all the stops you could get a C.”

My immediate thought was not one of discouragement but internal dispute (in a good way) Side note - check out

Internally I was thinking how on earth could he possibly call out my potential so early on without seeing the full picture.

Was not soon after to that I hung up my sixth form uniform, blazer, school shoes and prefect tie and went to work in central London for close to an entire year. Day in and day out, five, sometimes six or seven times a week.

After close to twelve months I re-enrolled in a different college and re-registered for one of the three A – Levels in …you guessed it Sports Science, this time with a much bigger class.

An implicit learning I had from the first experience that I took with me now into the new college was that I was not going to let any teacher dictate what I was capable of. I was going to set my own bar.

The new college took 1 to 1.5 hours to travel to each day (one way). I’d calculated that was 3 hours of travel time and I was going to use this time wisely, strategically and to my advantage.

Each day as soon as I sat down on the bus I’d take out my sports science text book and start reading. At the end of the day when I’d get back on the bus, if I was not with any friends, I’d take out the text book again and start reading.

When it was not raining and as I walking either to the bus top or from the bus stop home or to college I’d take out my text book again and start reading.

I read and read and re-read and absorbed and revised and rehearsed and applied myself day in and day out during times when most people would just sit on the bus and watch the cars go by + I really enjoyed what I was learning.

After two years it was time to write our finals for our A-Levels.

The net result?

I didn’t get a ‘C.’

I didn’t even get a ‘B’.

I didn’t just get an ‘A’ either.

I was top of the Class.

The ‘A’ was not simply about getting a grade. It was about learning, developing my mind and expanding my knowledge…

You don’t need to let anyone dictate to you what you are capable of.

You get to decide + you get to choose how you approach your learning.

Decide + Own your learning process.

With Arete,


p.s. definition for the word ‘label’ = ‘a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive’.

p.p.s. are you really going to let an inaccurate or restrictive ‘label’ define you?

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