Academic achievement must go hand in hand with an entrepreneurial mindset

30/04/2015

The next three months will see universities churning out thousands of very proud new graduates – BA Hons, BSc’s the lot. A great education with brains packed full of new learning, knowledge and facts. But why do so many fail to find a job? How many of these bright new graduates have had their prospects limited by the conditioning of the external environment? These young adults have been supported in life skills and getting their head in shape for the next stage of their life. How many walk away with a personal growth plan that defines very clearly how to move their life on and make the best of their three years spent at university? How many have thought creatively about next steps… charity work, setting up their own business, free lancing using specialist skills they have acquired?

My view, is that we have some of the best academic institutions in the world and we create some of the finest talent, but so many never realise their potential and end up in jobs that fall way below their true capability – futures that lack direction, bouncing around from one job to another. It’s no use having a long list of qualifications if you don’t put them to best use. More effort and energy should be put into developing the creative and entrepreneurial mindsets that drive ambition and ultimately greater achievement. If you cant find a job why not create your own and set up in business? We need to see more graduate entrepreneurship.

I speak from experience, I left university in 1986 with a degree in Chemistry – great technical skills, but struggled having conversations, making presentations and generally selling myself to potential employers – no skills for life. I am not sure much has changed to be honest – I had to work it out for myself. We need to equip this next generation with a more rounded experience thereby allowing them to combine great academic qualifications with a mindset conducive to achievement and releasing personal potential. We must remember that we get what we think about. The universities are a rich seam of next generation entrepreneurs, work is needed to getting them started.

Are the cap and gown, the photograph that hangs on mum and dads wall and the handshake from the university chancellor the best send off we can give them? As well as the well-earned degree certificate, they should all leave with a “plan for life” or maybe a plan for their own business.


Creating space

16/09/2014

Not being able to see the wood for the trees is a common feature of life. People regularly talk about being busy and overworked – but just how much of this is self inflicted. All too often we engage in activity that brings no value to achieving our highest goals and ambitions. Without reflective time, our decision making becomes blurred and it is common to lose sight of what we want. The result is stale thought with patterns of behaviour that fail to deliver our deepest desires. Successful people have the fortunate ability to think clearly, this is helped by finding the time to take well earned breaks from being “busy”. This cleansing process provides the opportunity to de clutter the mind.

The practice of finding sanctuary helps to remove mental blockages and fosters a sense of balance between work and play. Without regular periods of reflection you will find yourself eventually in a rut – the place you don’t want to be!

You must think of Sanctuary on three levels of “time out”:

  1. Daily sanctuary to help us to prepare for the day ahead – time with family, exercise, meditation, prayer, reading. Starting each day with 10 minutes of deep reflection, provides a kick start to focused activity and just being aware
  2. Weekly sanctuary that helps divert our energies into non related activities like pursuing a hobby, sport or spending more time with family and relationships. These activities release you from the week that was – puts you in a good frame for the week ahead
  3. Sanctuary includes those activities that most people can only fit in two or three times a year. They would typically involve family holiday’s, short breaks or some form or retreat. This level gives you the opportunity to ask the big questions – what is my life all about? What needs to change? Should I go and do something else?

Dedication to the 3 Levels will open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Chasing success can be as destructive as it is constructive – practicing the art of Finding Sanctuary will build perspective into your life and help to differentiate between what is and what is not important, what brings fulfilment and what does not – embed these disciplines into your routine and you will experience a profound improvement in clarity of thought – you will see things more clearly, you will make better decisions and life will feel less hectic.


Discover Your Uniqueness

29/10/2010

Every person has their own set of unique talents and gifts. However, many people have great difficulty in articulating or displaying what they are – it is these nuggets that help to build a point of difference. Communicating what is special about us or what we offer is particularly pertinent in competitive situations. Standing out from the crowd is often a critical driver for success.   All too often our authenticity is masked by our inability to clearly define our personal and professional proposition. In the business world entrepreneurs refer to their unique selling point, this concept is transferable to many situations we find ourselves in life – for example, being interviewed for a new job, auditioning for a role in a play or applying for a university course. Our ability to win can be reliant on us differentiating ourselves from the competition. When you find yourself in one of these situations just remind yourself that others probably want exactly what you do! So what will you do to gain the edge?

You must condition your mindset to understanding what makes you unique – it is a question that at some point in your life you will be asked – your success may depend on your answer! You need to deliver a response that is powerful, engaging and passionate. When you have a clear appreciation of your authenticity it gives you confidence to pursue your goals and accomplish your mission in life. Work out your Unique Proposition Statement by exploring:

  • What is it that makes you unique?
  • What are your unique talents?
  • What makes you special?
  • Why should others listen to you?
  • What attributes do others value?
  • The successes you have already
  • The impact you have had on others

Summarise in 300 words your reflections on the above. By going through this extremely powerful process you will gain greater insight to your personal competitive advantage. Once defined and clear in your mind what exactly makes you different – just observe how much more success you attract!


Push the boundaries

26/07/2010

Fear of the unknown can have a massive impact on our ability to realise our dreams. Virtually anyone that has succeeded in their profession, career or sport has been able to overcome their inner fears. Fear comes in many shapes and forms, it could be:

  • Fear of failure as embarrassment could result
  • Fear of being unable to provide for our family
  • Fear of speaking in public
  • Fear of financial disaster
  • Fear of losing our job

In many instances fear is an emotion we create in our own mind and it often results from negative self talk. Fear can hold us back from doing what we want to do and what we want to achieve – it acts as a barrier to personal progression. The emotional turmoil crated by fear stunts our personal growth, creates self limiting beliefs and leads to a lacklustre performance that will not get you your desired outcome

By getting into the habit of confronting our fears, we release the internal brakes of the mind – this allows us to move forward with our personal intentions and create the life and career we desire. Mind conditioning is required if we are going to overcome the fears that hold us back. We must get into the habit of listening to those fears but asking ourselves – how real are they? Do away with those fears by:

  • Taking small steps to overcoming those fears by forcing yourself to take action
  • Visualise the outcome you want – not the fear factor
  • Ask yourself how real is the fear?
  • Dispel the invisible audience that fear creates in the mind
  • How much do you want success? If you cant do away with the fear, disappointment will result

Surrendering to fear will hold you back, don’t fall victim to it, take positive steps to embrace fear and push through it. Once in the habit you will never look back – almost anything becomes a possibility.


Slow down to speed up

16/07/2010

Not being able to see the wood for the trees is a common feature of life. People regularly talk about being busy and overworked – but just how much of this is self-inflicted. All too often we engage in activity that brings no value to achieving our highest goals and ambitions. Without reflective time, our decision making becomes blurred and it is common to lose sight of what we want. The result is stale thought with patterns of behaviour that fail to deliver our deepest desires. Successful people have the fortunate ability to think clearly, this is helped by finding the time to take well-earned breaks from being “busy”. This cleansing process provides the opportunity to de clutter the mind.

The practice of finding sanctuary helps to remove mental blockages and fosters a sense of balance between work and play. Without regular periods of reflection you will find yourself eventually in a rut – the place you don’t want to be!

You must think of Sanctuary on three levels of “time out”:

Daily sanctuary to help us to prepare for the day ahead – time with family, exercise, meditation, prayer, reading. Starting each day with 10 minutes of deep reflection, provides a kick-start to focused activity and just being aware

Weekly sanctuary that helps divert our energies into non related activities like pursuing a hobby, sport or spending more time with family and relationships. These activities release you from the week that was – puts you in a good frame for the week ahead

Sanctuary includes those activities that most people can only fit in two or three times a year. They would typically involve family holiday’s, short breaks or some form or retreat. This level gives you the opportunity to ask the big questions – what is my life all about? What needs to change? Should I go and do something else?

Dedication to the 3 Levels will open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Chasing success can be as destructive as it is constructive – practicing the art of Finding Sanctuary will build perspective into your life and help to differentiate between what is and what is not important, what brings fulfilment and what does not – embed these disciplines into your routine and you will experience a profound improvement in clarity of thought – you will see things more clearly, you will make better decisions and life will feel less hectic.


Three Dimensions……

08/07/2010

Another great week of speaking to entrepreneurs at various events. What has struck me this week is the need for individuals to spend more time thinking about their personal aims and aspirations – then, align these to their business ambitions. It seems to me that there are three dimensions of the entrepreneurs mindset:

1. Thinking in the past – many companies are stuck in the thinking of – “the good old days” and have failed to move on. Consequently they and their businesses have stagnated.

2. Stuck in the reality of today – many entrepreneurs are living lives they don’t want to be living they are bogged down by necessity – but they keep going – they are real hero’s of the economy

3. Utopia – many entrepreneurs want more but they don’t know what they are looking for. They are seraching for a higher sense of purpose and meaning for their life. They must take time out to reflect and define with clarity their personal intentions. My advice is create the rules and live the life YOU want.


Mark Prisks Ideas on Supporting Entrepreneurs

08/06/2010

I like Mark Prisks new ideas around creating the “growth hubs” to support small businesses. Providing a modern service by offering online support features significantly in his ideas – good stuff, but…….. the reality is entrepreneurs learn from other entrepreneurs and from people they trust – i.e those that have the real ‘licence’ to offer guidance . This means that whilst having resources online is part of the mix, you just cant get away from the power and effectiveness of coaching or mentoring. A service that relies too much on the digital channels could be a false economy. Real business support results from face to face interaction where there is mutual respect.