"Apply herself" - what does it look like?

Among my current reading are three books written/illustrated/edited by Danny Gregory.
  One of those is An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration from the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators, and Designers.  There is a lot i could say about it, and may at some point - i am so loving these books! - but right now i want to highlight
  Carol Gillott, whose travel sketchbooking is featured on pp. 73-75 of An Illustrated Journey. 

 The Artist as a Young Girl

  Like many of the featured artists, she opens by telling of her early love of drawing.  Unlike many of the other artists, she adds that this was a problem for her:  All she wanted to do, even as a kid was draw and travel.  Her textbook margins were filled with images.  She stared out the window instead of watching the teacher.  "Report cards informed my parents, 'If only Carol would apply herself.'"
  Sounds like a kid who cannot succeed in school and is destined to fail in life, what?

Fast Forward: The Artist Today

  Her age isn't given.  Internet images show her to be maybe a midlife lady.  Gregory's book aludes to her successful independent career as a fashion designer, which has allowed her to travel extensively.  (And if this isn't to her heart's content, her heart's content exceeds what MY heart's content could be in my wildest dreams, which is saying a lot!)
  Suffice it to say that this is not a lady who spends her time woolgathering and letting life pass her by, regardless of the report cards.
  In fact, she ends her piece by informing us that she "can't relax or just sit in cafes," she "needs to research" all the time, and proclaims herself a "nonstop workaholic."

Success: A One-Size Fits All Phenomenon?

  So, are we recognizing all the schoolkids who are truly at risk?
  Are we letting genuinely at risk kids slip through the cracks while we needlessly hassle the "different drummer" ones to conform or fail?
  Having difficulties in school can be a gift.  People like me, who coast through with the desired excellent test scores that are thought to indicate success, may not have the kind of skills  they'll eventually need to be successful in the cutthroat business world.
Easy success does not foster this sort of thing.  (Being a humanities major, i don't really buy into the notion of success in the business world being the ultimate end of education anyway.  Money is essential, but not ultimately important.)

  Famous People with Learning Disabilities
     Some names on this list will surprise you very much!

What is success anyway?  What do YOU think?

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