My first ever vlog and hopefully more to come. This vlog documents my first day at the Google Innovator Academy in Sweden. Part 2 coming soon!

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy getting things done, travelling for work and working on my master plan. But, if I’m honest a friend from college has motivated me to start blogging again (Tolu-make sure you check out her blog). I fell off but want to get back on!

I’m currently sat on a plane to Sweden where I’ll attend the Google Innovator Academy. I finally plucked up the courage to apply after mulling over it for a few months. I was recommended by someone last year to apply for the New York cohort but didn’t feel ready and the cost would be too much. Then this year there was a London cohort (right on my doorstep) but yet I still didn’t feel it was the right time and was worried three days out of work would be an issue. I let every excuse keep me from applying and left myself in limbo.

After some deep reflection, I knew the honest reason I hadn’t applied is that I didn’t want to fail and thought that somehow I wasn’t good enough to be a part of it. So even when everyone in my Personal Learning Network encouraged me to I didn’t. Imposter syndrome can be so debilitating.

I was also worried about how my body would hold up for three intense days. Would it let me down again, as it has on so many occasions?  It’s hard to do things when you don’t trust your body but I guess it’s not impossible.

I regretted not applying for the London cohort, while it was on I felt irritated I was missing out. I should have been there learning new things and growing. I felt a bit daft that I’d not committed to my promise several years ago to live without regrets.

Enough was enough and I finally decided to apply to the Sweden Innovator Academy. The application itself was quite a lengthy one. You have to identify a challenge that you would like to solve in education, interview a few students or teachers affected by the challenge, film a 60-second video about that challenge and why you want to solve it. After a stern talking to myself I completed it on time and a few weeks later learnt I was accepted.

As I am passionate about giving back to others and improving social mobility, I decided on the following: How might we ensure mentoring of disengaged students is consistent and effective? Keep posted to find out how I solve this challenge.

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Reflections

When you die, how will you be remembered? A harsh opening line I know, but it is a powerful question that can lead to important changes.

I attended a funeral a few months ago and it got me thinking about how I’ll be remembered when I die. Over three hundred people came to pay their respects to someone they very clearly loved. The queue to enter the church was something that I had never seen before. It wound down the stairs of the church long before the service had even started. The service itself was beautiful, filled with fond memories from close friends and family, who all spoke about his kindness, charity and sense of humour. I was easily moved thinking about how one person could affect so many. I guess it made me reflect on whether I was living my life to the fullest and whether one day I would leave a lasting impression. I know I’d like to think so but the truth is more complicated. Living from the heart is difficult. It requires facing and then transcending your core fears.

The way I face my fears is coming to terms with my own mortality. I know I won’t be alive forever and I can’t know for certain when my time is up. It’s so easy

to get comfortable with life or distracted by; other people; social media; our fears and demons. Sometimes it takes something life-threatening for us to snap out of our haze and kick start our productivity. But why must we wait until then? When we truly accept the inevitability of death it can give us a renewed sense of urgency about living life to the fullest.  

Accepting your own mortality strips away the lies, excuses and illusions you feed yourself. If these barriers move you further away from your purpose or your intended legacy they are not necessary. After challenging them you may find the power or confidence you didn’t know you had.

How I want to be remembered:

    • Someone who extended love to others
    • A loving husband and father
    • Someone who inspired others to live a life they love
    • Homestand real, not interested in pretending to be somebody else
    • Valued time with family and friends
    • Enjoyed exercise, valued health and happiness
    • Set goals and was determined to keep growing, changing and learning
    • Compassionate
    • Never gave up, no matter what happened.

The most powerful currency in the world is time, once you spend it you cannot earn it back. Stop procrastinating and act today.

How do you want to be remembered? Please comment below

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November 8, 2019

Hope your first week of the new year has been a good one. Thank you for all your messages on my last blog post (click here if you missed it), they were very encouraging. But one of the questions stuck with me “How do you keep getting back up after each time you get knocked down?” I didn’t expect to receive that question on a Friday night in the middle of watching Star Wars. I kept thinking about how to reply to this message, throughout the film and even wrote several replies when I got home but didn’t think I could do it justice in a few lines. So I decided to write a blog post.

After all the epileptic attacks, the daily chronic pain and aspects of my cognitive skills declining- how do I keep getting back up?

One word that often resonates with me is RESILIENCE. The best definition I found is Resilience involves the ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down or to come back fighting stronger after a setback.”  I have always been a fighter when I reflect on my past failings and setbacks. Failing and then re-sitting my GCSE’s and then graduating with a 2:1 in Software Engineering despite a period of amnesia in my second year which meant I had to re-learn skills and content in time for the end of year exams was a tough time. Another example of my resilience was learning to walk again after a severe epileptic attack.  The pain I felt literally brought me to my knees and each time I fell down I knew it would be easy to just give up and accept that life won’t ever be the same. But I kept trying, I never want to fail at anything I do. I suppose I can’t accept failure and never want to be limited by my circumstances or events I can’t control.

Another characteristic I think I have is GRIT (Anyone that has read anything by Angela Lee Duckworth knows about this term). For me resilience is having the optimism to continue when you’ve experienced some failures and see things through. While grit is the motivational drive that keeps you on a difficult task over a sustained period of time. I think of a Rottweiler not letting go of what it wants and how I need grab things in the same way.

I’m not saying I think any of this is easy. Believe me I have been at rock bottom, struggling to get back up or not knowing whether it was possible for me to recover. The truth is I had to accept that my life was never going to be same again and so I had to make life changing adjustments which were incredibly hard and frustrating. But I’ve decided to keep growing and moving forward in life I have to continue to be a positive force. When I feel things slipping out of my control I imagine that Rotweiller in me and simply hang on. I am determined to make my mark on this world before I leave it. For me life is about having no regrets and knowing you have had a positive impact that remains after my last breath.

I know that I wouldn’t  have been able to do so much without the incredible support from my FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

 My take away tips to develop Resilience and Grit

  1. Talk to and learn from people who persevere. Everyone has a story and the more you share with others the more likely we can inspire and feed each other’s ambitions.
  2. Set small goals that align with your purpose and work towards them every day. If an action doesn’t fit your vision, don’t give it your time or energy.
  3. Build time into your day for reflection. Time to take stock of your successes, who you need to thank or show some appreciation for what you already have.

Even though you may not think it, we have all shown resilience and grit at some point in our lives, whether that’s bouncing back from someone’s harsh words or achieving a goal when people doubted you. Share your moment in the comments below and let’s keep inspiring each other.

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November 8, 2019

It’s that time of the year when people start to set a list of New Year resolutions, excited that come January 1st their whole life will dramatically change. I used to do this until I realised I would strictly follow them in January and then they would gradually fizzle out. I was mainly unable to follow them as I always felt like I was depriving myself and once I had lapsed it was difficult to get back on track.

I now set only a few targets for the year, targets that are much more manageable and realistic. These feed into my vision of being a better person. I remind myself of them daily, so they are not some abstract frightening concept I feel I can’t reach. I then review where I am every month. This allows me to measure the progress I am making towards my targets and the chance to reflect and make better choices.

One of my main goals this year is to be more CONSISTENT. For me this means going to the gym three times a week (health permitting), eating better (less red meat and more vegetables), making the effort to plan in time with friends and family, finishing books (I often start several but don’t quite get to finish them) and uploading my blogs more frequently (work in progress).

Another goal is to be more FORGIVING of myself. When things don’t go to plan or as well as intended, I need to shake it off and learn from the situation quickly. I know I am not perfect – no one ever is, but accepting and bouncing back from challenges is something I will continue to work on.

I asked my wife to go for a walk with me, she agreed but looked at me oddly- it isn’t something I normally ask to do especially on a cold night. Those of you who follow my story know that I sometimes have issues walking. Nevertheless, the time spent walking beside her was a simple pleasure and reminded me that I should never take the simple things in life for granted. My final goal is to be more APPRECIATIVE by giving time, attention and thanks to the important people and things in life.

I see these goals as essential for me becoming a better version of myself. There is no shock or surprise in what I want to achieve. They are not absolute or set in stone, but what they are, are achievable and very clear.

I’m going to challenge you to do one thing in addition to your own targets for this year, and that is to look after yourself. Each day find a way to be good to yourself.  

Let me know what your goals are this year, feel free to share them in the comments below!

Roll on 2018.

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