Not everyone can be an Olympic athlete, but everyone can become an invaluable member of society and, in so doing, contribute more to the community than even the most Herculean athletic feat.At the moment we are awash with stirring tales of how this year’s crop of elite athletes were inspired by the stars of yesteryear, to abandon the hedonistic lives enjoyed by their friends and dedicate themselves to years of committed training. For many young stars, all that’s required to drive them on to make such sacrifices is the thought of a single sublime performance, perhaps just a few seconds, followed by Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame”. If we as a species are able to focus for so long on something so fleeting, surely by employing the right psychology we can use the same process to inspire and empower a generation to aspire to a rich and prosperous life, with all the modern luxuries that last summer’s rioters claimed they were being deprived of? People who know my origins will have heard me explain how I was inspired to learn my trade by the local plumber, Bill, who, through the eyes of a nine-year-old living on a council estate, seemed to have a charmed life. He was the only bloke with a decent car, who could afford to go on holidays. To me, imitating him was a ticket to the good life, and a complete no-brainer. We have a million under-25s languishing out of work across the country. So perhaps the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games could be not encouraging everyone to take up a sport, but to employ the same commitment and dedication shown by athletes that will enable people to achieve in society through the world of work. This, in turn, would pay back the effort put in many times over. If young people are encouraged to focus on something they want to do with their lives, – be it a trade or being an artist, a photographer or a scientist – all these things will provide a productive and happy future, rather than the prospect of a lifetime of just scraping by on benefits. What I would like to see after the Games have faded away, and after the glory of having them in our country has passed, is a concerted effort to show people – particularly those who have 60 years of living still to do – what they can have as a result of a few years of hard work. We can’t all be the heroes of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, but so many more can earn a house, a nice car on the drive, holidays in the sun… even the odd pair of True Religion jeans, if you must! Surely such a future portrayed in the right light can be a driving force as powerful as the fleeting fame of a medal ceremony? Charlie Mullins started his business from scratch and built it into a multi-million pound enterprise. From humble beginnings growing up on an estate in south London, Charlie left school with no qualifications, but after a four-year plumbing apprenticeship he started his own firm, Pimlico Plumbers, which now generates a turnover in excess of £16m and boasts many well-known names among its many clients.
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