I’ve been part of Sky TV’s “School of Hard Knocks” team for some years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how, no matter how many young men walk through our doors, the same patterns and stories play out, over and over again.Born on the wrong wide of the tracks, dropped out of school, fell in with the wrong crowd, made too many mistakes to turn back. And those stories might be familiar in your own life too, because we all have more in common than we think. Look at the flip-side though – this is also the way that most entrepreneurs’ autobiographies start. Your life history can be an excuse for failure, or it can be the springboard for your success. What’s important is that we learn along the way, so here are the top ten lesson’s I’ve learned from the young men who have changed their lives through “School of Hard Knocks” (1) You cannot be successful by yourself, even a self-employed entrepreneur needs clients, suppliers, partners. Learning to trust and rely on these people, and letting them rely on you, is critical to your success. When Jason Leonard, the former England rugby captain, visited us, he said: “Everything in a scrummage is ultimately team work because you are turning round and saying to your mate, I am with you, I won’t let you down. I can look someone in the eye and say I am right beside you, that is what a scrum is all about.” (2) If something’s not right in your business, it’s up to you to change it, whether you’re the owner or an employee. If you wait for the right moment, or you wait for someone else to change it for you, that time will never come – the right time is always now. Sammy is one of the young men who turned his life around following his time in “School of Hard Knocks”. When he came back to visit us, he said: “It’s more than what you think it is, it’s not just rugby, it’s life, you can change whatever you want to do in your life and the amazing thing is how quickly you can change, it just like that, with a click of the finger. If you stay positive and stay strong, the future is bright.” (3) Everyone will tell you that, when you get knocked down, you have to get back up again. But it’s more important than that – you can’t learn from success, you can only learn from failure, and that learning only has value when you get up and carry on. Mark Prince was one of our guests, a former boxing champion, who tragically lost his son to knife crime and became a campaigner for knife safety. He told our young men: “Life can bang you up. What are you going to do? Are you going to throw in the towel? Are you going cut your wrists? Are you going to drink yourself into a stupor? You need to remember that you’re still living, you’ve still got life, if I can do it then anybody can.” (4) You don’t have to be strong or tough to run a business. You just have to make the decision to carry on. Going round in circles, procrastinating, putting off difficult decisions, these sap your energy, make things seem tough, but all you’re fighting is yourself. One of our young men said that he couldn’t turn his life around because “I ain’t got the mental strength”. Whether you’re resisting the wrong choices in life, or one more late night at the office, it’s nothing to do with strength, all that you need is to make that choice. (5) If you’re starting a new business or developing an existing one, there’s no time like the present. Some of the young men who joined “School of Hard Knocks” thought they could put off their life changes until tomorrow. They thought they had one more day. Others realised that every minute wasted is gone forever. When you realise that your life is passing you by and you’re allowing it, you can very quickly make the changes that you want. See page two to find out why relevant role models are key and how learning from mistakes can be the key to success.
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