What They Didn’t Teach Us at School

What They Didn't Teach Us at School

 At the start of last month, I was asked to present at a local High School around the life lessons I’ve learned from my journey of being an author, speaker and consultant.

I was shocked to find, after sending my presentation through, I was asked to write out a new one…some of my suggestions and lessons were too ‘provocative’ for the student body, and something they didn’t want their students exposed to.

It was an interesting piece of feedback to hear, as I’ve never been censored in such a way before, so I thought, for this to not go to waste, I’d re-tell some points in the online world (where everything is allowed). Many have heard of Bill Gates’ speech he gave at an American High School about his life lessons, and I must say, it was nothing different to it…apart from the fact I don’t have any sort of billion dollar empire. I’d love to see the day some of these life lessons are at least discussed at school – after all, isn’t this institution supposed to prepare youth for the ‘real world’?

At the same time, I know of many schools with Leadership Days where they invite speakers, and teach them some of the real life lessons…maybe this school was just a bit too sheltered for the truth, but here we go, my three points I wanted to share with the school. Judge for yourself how it may break students as the school thought…

1. You Need to Work Hard

In our generation, somehow we get it into our heads, life is going to be easy. Who can blame us? Our parents are Generation X, or for some, even Baby Boomers, and all their life they had to work really, really hard to get what they wanted in life. They obviously didn’t want their kids to go through some of the same struggles, so they tried to make an easier life for us – their kids.

Back in the day, some of our parents were working at 13 or 14 years of age, whereas today, this is illegal! Our parents had to work hard to get their first job, while we expect to have a steady job in our late teens, because we hear of how some of our parents had been promoted to manager positions in their late teens. What we forget, or what our parents forget to tell us, is they had to work for years before then to get to that position. You are going to work hard to get to wherever you want to get to – whether it’s a promotion, or starting your own business, or anything else, you’re going to have to get out there and put in the hard yards. That’s what we don’t get from our parents or teachers…not because they’re lying to us, but because perhaps they forgot about their own journey and challenges.

The best advice I was ever given is to choose what I love and put in all my passion, blood, sweat and tears into it. And I have. Have you? What do you want to do? Whether it’s a short term or long term goal, what do you really want from life? Find out, pin point it and get ready for some hard work – there are no shortcuts there!

2. Take the Opportunity to be Curious

When I came to New Zealand, I was the most outgoing child you could ever imagine. Even now, I can’t contain my excitement when telling a friend some good news I end up telling the whole street. However, when I came to New Zealand, all of a sudden people were speaking a funny language, and I didn’t understand a thing. So I became really introverted and started to really take in what other people were doing. I guess my observation skills have stuck with me since then, but now I finally know what language everyone is speaking, I can add my extroverted-ness into any conversation.

What I’ve learned over the last 4 years of being in business, being an author and speaker, is people think celebrities and opportunities are out of their reach. If only people knew the truth. I’ve learned to be brave, which is what I’ll touch on in the next point, but the biggest thing I learned is the importance of being curious. I wrote my first book when I was 17, and luckily, I was invited onto a live radio interview with some of the other top parenting authors of the country. After the interview, I e-mailed all of them – even the ones I disagreed with on the radio, and expressed my gratitude and honour for the opportunity to be heard alongside them on national radio. One replied. But you know, that one was, and still is THE biggest, most respected parenting author in the country.

The busiest people are the ones who have enough time for everyone and I now know this and am not afraid to e-mail or even call some of my most admired heroes. This parenting author is now one of my dearest mentors and friends, and always makes time for when I’m in her city and vise versa. The lessons she’s taught me and all the information she’s helped me out with has been priceless. Get mentors, contact whoever can help you – even if they’re at the very top of their game – they always have time for you! Take some time to be curious about the world around you – whether it’s contacting someone you think is out of reach, or doing some extra research about some topic, job, or person – just do it! What’s the worst that could happen?

3. Learn to be Brave

So you work hard and you’re curious about the opportunities out there…with this, you need to learn to be brave. Many self esteem books will tell you to be yourself, but the beauty of life is taking risks.

I used to hate public speaking. I mean I used to love being the centre of attention, but as I became more and more introvert when I came to New Zealand, I bought into the whole ‘public speaking is worse than death’ belief. I had to get out of it, because very early on, I realised in order to get the message – my precious message of how people can build better relationships with each other – across to many people, I was going to need to get out of my limiting belief. The fear used to really get to me, but I knew it was for the best. I knew I was going to have to swallow my pride and fear and get out there and do it for the people – without sounding like some sort of revolutionary, I knew my message was going to really help people.

Sometimes when following your dreams, you need to be brave. Do you think Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t scared – getting up and speaking about something he truly believed in? All those people watching him, but his passion and vision drove him. He could have hid in his room and stuck with the life he was given, but his belief that his vision was for the greater good of people, drove him to get out there.

Your fear may not be public speaking – it might be getting out there and contacting J.K. Rowling – who knows! But if you really believe in what you’re doing, get out there – be brave, and just do it!

What other advice would you give to youth today? What do you wish you knew when you were 13, 16, or 19? (Comment below)