Why are so many smart and diligent people successful in school but fail in real life?

Simple! Because schools don’t teach life skills. They teach a lot of theory that is easy to learn but either useless or difficult to apply in real life. Tho, you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be successful, but some intelligent students miss out on a better life because they don’t learn how to see the world through an entrepreneurial lens and suffer because of rigid thinking.

Here’s “School-Smart” vs “Street-Smart” in a LEGO analogy:

School is like getting a very complex LEGO set:


The goal: “We expect you to put this Lego together,. We will show you how to do it! Follow the instructions and you will succeed!”

So, we go from first grade through to sixth grade.


In each grade, we get a set of instructions to follow:

For example, this is first grade:



If we fail to meet the required standards, we WON’T be able to move forward. If we DO meet the standards, we will be allowed to move to the next level — each level stacks upon the other, growing in complexity.

If we complete elementary, we move on to middle school, and then to high school:


Once we successfully finish high school, we move on to college. We continue “stacking” up ALL the sets of instructions, meeting the standards.

If we don’t do it EXACTLY as expected, we will fail!


Finally, the day comes..…


We celebrate......


CONGRATULATIONS! We all get a “certificate” that proves we are capable of following very complex instructions.


Then, we face the real world …

The real world is also like Lego, but with NO INSTRUCTIONS


We feel confused and overwhelmed. “What should I do?” we ask ourselves.

We urgently need someone to tell us what to do (boss). After all, we were all trained to FOLLOW instructions, indoctrinated, not really educated.

Why is it like that? Weren’t we taught that to become successful, we’re supposed to study hard and be good at school?

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Now that's because Academic Thinking Teaches You to Avoid ‘Failure’ – If 60 percent of your decisions worked out well as an entrepreneur, you’d be wildly successful and wealthy. In school, 60 percent means you received a failing grade. So many students who do well within the confines of academia struggle when they leave school because they’re afraid to fail, which leads to them being failures. Again, I only consider you a failure if you give up altogether on achieving the long-term objectives you know you’d follow through with if you weren’t afraid. Too many students go through the wringer of the ‘higher education’ system — working so so hard for approval that they don’t know how to deal with rejection and setbacks. This goes back to why my old professor used to grade primarily on effort instead of some meticulous rubric. In the real world, sometimes you do the right thing and still ‘fail’ but on a long enough time scale, your effort tends to pay off if you keep attempting new strategies and projects.

What’s the difference?

Indoctrination teaches us WHAT to think, not HOW to think – When you’re in school, you’re often taught to memorize facts to pass tests. In the real world, how you apply facts and implement knowledge matters more than the knowledge itself.

The skills you need to be successful in the real world are often skills highly driven students don’t learn because of misdirected focus:

  1. Problem-solving — In real life, you’ll run into unique scenarios that can’t be replicated in a textbook.

  2. First-principles — Instead of knowing a bunch of facts, it’s better to learn a set of first principles or useful rules of thumb you more or less know to be true that you can apply to real-world scenarios.

  3. Adaptability & calm under pressure — Sometimes, success in life comes down to your ability to regulate your emotions so you can make difficult decisions. Test-taking environments are low-pressure and predictable.

So, to answer the question, why are so many smart and diligent people successful in school but fail in real life?

Being “school-smart” is radically different than being “street-smart.”

Do you want to be “street-smart?”

Consider this: We are now in an age where computers, algorithms and robots, are unbeatable at FOLLOWING instructions. If our value to the world is being good at following instructions, we then do NOT stand a chance at succeeding in today’s new economic environment.

Who will win?

“Street-Smart” in the new economy means we have extraordinary creative skills, meaning that we can innovate and think “outside the box.”

Creativity CANNOT be automated!

Computers, robots and algorithms CANNOT compete with us in creativity. Well, at least not yet …

Schools MUST stop “standardizing” us. We are all different and that’s where success comes from, from our unique abilities and strengths that make us stand out in this competitive world.


We now live in a very different world. Our educational system was built and perfected to serve the Industrial Age. The Industrial Age was all about competing with efficiencies. Following instructions with excellence increased productivity. Today that work belongs to machines, not to us.

Today the world belongs to CREATORS!


There are NO instructions ahead of us! The way we solved things yesterday is now outdated. Change is only accelerating.

The sooner we understand this, the better chance we all have at succeeding in this world of exponential change.


Future reading