The best advice for someone leaving school or university

It wasn’t so long ago I was in my late teens. I remember feeling this intense pressure to have it all together & be on a path to success, and perhaps even more so to be seen to be successful. In hindsight, my 20s has been a lot about failing as a means to grow, and I’ve done plenty of that. The thought of failing at anything at aged 20 was ego-destroying, a nightmare scenario I couldn’t entertain being positive, and anything that resulted in failure or not direct reward was hard to register as beneficial. In hindsight, the work i did for free and the failures have formed the foundation for what i rely on most now.

In hindsight, I took action around that time that i was largely unconscious of, but which has proved fruitful & I now recognise as a powerful play. I worked for the person who had my ideal life, for free, in exchange for knowledge & connections. More than once. I then crowdsourced as many of these people as possible, and consumed their ideas by books, videos & anything else I could get my hands on.

The beauty of personal development is that the effect of the work you do on yourself compounds over time. You reap the rewards way down the line, so it’s very much an investment and most appropriately at that young age, it’s one most can afford to make. For most of us, our late teens & early 20s are a time when we’re time rich & cash poor. At a young age, I truly believe the best investment you can make is exchanging your time for “free” in working for the person you’d most like to be in the world. 

Can’t access the individual on a personal level? I realise it’s not possible for everyone. The best minds that have ever lived have left behind their thoughts & ideas for us all though. For less than £10 a time you can buy a book by one of these people. In most cases, less than 10 hours can get you through a whole one. 10 hours a week & you’ve managed a book a week. Imagine doing that from age 18? Or 20? The impact compounds over time and over the course of a decade we become a fountain of knowledge. Add to that the application of this knowledge in support of someone we admire, then we get the real life opportunity to fail & learn as we go.

Many of the best minds today regularly publish their content via podcasts. An hour at a time for most, so imagine the power of 1 hour a day learning from the best in the business you aspire to be in? 

You don’t have to have a defined end game. Many industries require skills which crossover, but developing management, communication, marketing, critical thinking & general business skills from a young age can be hugely beneficial in later life. For most of us, we’ll work in a variety of sectors & be able to take lessons from each to the next. I’m amazed at how having to introduce football camps to 100 & parents kids aged 16 set me up to be comfortable public speaking in front of large groups aged 26.

If i could give my 18 year old self 1 piece of advice, it would be this. You don't have to have it figured out. Surrounding yourself with people who are on the way to, when you have the time of lack of responsibility to make it possible, is a course of action i cant recommend enough. Go and work for someone you aspire to be like for free. Find a way to add value to that person. And in your spare time, double down on building your own knowledge and perspective through books, podcasts, videos & events.