I have had the privilege of meeting numerous successful people in the jobs I have done over the years. Like many I have enjoyed watching sports stars, hearing fine musicians, reading great authors and seeing good entertainers. One silver thread runs through the success of all of them. Hard work.
If you want to write well, first read well. Then try writing, strenuously seeking to improve how you write. If you want to perform in the Olympics, choose your sport and spend every available waking hour practising and building your physique and technique. Take advice on how to compete with the best. Know two things. Being the best may be beyond you, but being very good is well within your abilities. If you really want to reach high standards you can do so. You will not reach high standards without belief and commitment.
I find the debate about academic selection curious. Most in the debate accept academic selection at age 18. No-one suggests sending people to top universities who do not have some GCSEs and A levels to a required standard. Most accept vigorous selection for developing football, cricket, ballet,music and other cultural talent. We start training our top musicians and dancers early, and give them a rigorous regime that the rest of us would not want. In return for a privileged specialist education we expect the best of them, and winnow out those who do not make sufficient effort.
The mistake is in thinking the grammar test is a single life changing event which means if you fail that prevents you having a good future. Some of the best entrepreneurs I know failed at school. Some of the top footballers would probably not have made it to grammar schools. Life is full of challenges, selections, opportunities and disappointments. Some people who were rejected by the Academy or turned down by the publisher eventually publish stunning books that many people want to read.
I love cricket but I never made it to a high standard team because I spent my youth reading books and trying to write better essays rather than practising my bowling. I like to go and watch people who are a lot better at cricket than I am. I am not jealous of them. I do not say we should stop selecting because it discriminates against mediocre cricketers like me. I praise them for their well honed skills, like watching their games and return to my job to do what I have trained myself to do to professional standards. I also enjoy playing cricket myself against people with similar limited levels of skill and competence who like me have not trained themselves to professional levels.
It is high time we accepted that life is riddled with selections. No one of them will prevent us achieving something or having a good life. Our present schooling system is riddled with selection by family income. The better off can afford to send their children to fee paying schools. The bit better offs can buy homes in the catchments of better state schools. Why should this type of selection be preferred to selection by ability?
You have only failed when you give up and have failure in your heart.