News just in – “I’m not a clever man” says King George V

I came across a great quote attributed to King George V who reigned from 1910 to 1936.

I am not a clever man, but if I had not picked up something from all the brains I’ve met I’d be an idiot“.

I don’t know the context in which he said this, but it makes so much sense to me.King George V banner Continue reading

Confidence – the magical ingredient

I recently spent a day with a group of second year undergraduates – from different universities, on a broad range of courses. They were bright, happy, enthusiastic and optimistic about their individual futures. That’s not to say they knew exactly what they would be doing after graduation 18 months from now – in most cases they had no idea. They weren’t oblivious to the current economic climate, and they knew that many people are facing a tough time. But they were optimistic.

Probing a little into their optimism, I found it was based on the most magical ingredient – confidence.

When tempered with humility, and in the absence of arrogance, can there be a more alluring characteristic in young people than confidence?  Confidence enables people to open doors for themselves; it allows them to explore, and reach out further to extend their experience, knowledge and understanding; it gives them a basis for further personal development. And better than that, it is self-perpetuating, providing an ever-increasing baseline from which to develop. Continue reading

Opportunity

Following the sad news of the death of Neil Armstrong, we have been reminded about the courage of those astronauts who were part of the lunar programme in the sixties and seventies. We’ve re-lived the moments of the first landing, and heard of the tremendous effects on the personal lives of many of the astronauts.

One story which seems to me particularly relevant is the Commencement Address in 2005 which Armstrong gave to the University of Southern California. The full transcript is here: http://www.usc.edu/dept/pubrel/specialevents/commencement/documents/PastSpeeches-Armstrong.pdf

It is a brilliant address, full of inspiration for those lucky graduates of USC who will have been far too young to witness the events which brought fame to Armstrong, but who will nevertheless recognise instantly his name and accomplishments. The address contained the following paragraph:

What an important message: Graduation marks the start of continuous change and opportunity which will arise. I started to think about opportunity and graduates, and the following themes emerged:

1. Take it!
You will never know the outcome unless you take the opportunity. It might bring a positive change – great news! If the immediate outcome is negative, then at least you know and can close-off that particular avenue in the future. You never know when (if) it will ever present itself again, so take it when you can.

2. Confidence
When we try something new, take an opportunity, we learn something about ourselves. We learn that we’re actually much more resilient than we’d previously imagined. Trying something new – whether it results in success or failure – teaches us that we’re capable of surviving both. It gives us the confidence to take further opportunities in the future as our personal comfort zones expand.

3. Personal growth
Whether we succeed or fail, we grow from our endeavours. We usually learn more from our failures than our successes. Either way, opportunities deliver personal growth.

4. The effect on others
When those around us see us taking opportunities, growing in confidence, learning and becoming bigger people, we affect those around us. They see the change in us and feel encouraged to do the same themselves. It also becomes an invitation to give us more opportunity, to further stretch us.

5. It differentiates us
There are always people who will pass up every opportunity, and by taking it ourselves we differentiate ourselves from them. It sets us apart, and gives us an advantage.

6. It’s not just about being in the right place at the right time
Right place, right time can be hugely advantageous. But unless we do the right thing at that time, we’re passing up an opportunity. Entrepreneurs are the very embodiment of this – they actually do something with the opportunity when it arises.

7. Give others an opportunity
We owe it to others to provide opportunities wherever possible. It is important to create opportunities for others to learn, grow, stand out. Whether that is through work experience, a try-out of a sport or hobby, a job rotation or even a potential promotion, give others an opportunity – you never know what will result.

Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered for being the first man to set foot on the moon. Today he reminded me of the importance of opportunity.