My Dad eats woodlice. He says that you have to crunch them quickly before they run around your mouth – euggh!
He told me that after you’ve eaten them you’ll find their legs between your teeth later on in the day. Again – euurrghh!
You’re probably thinking ‘er, why?’ or more likely ‘What’s wrong with him?’
Well, y’see, my dad is a survival specialist and teacher. He’s climbed a gazillion mountains, makes a rather spectacular fire and builds shelters sturdier than my house.
When I was little I remember my teacher asking me what my Dad did and I said something like ‘My Dad walks in the arctic and catches rabbits and eats them.’ I’m sure my teacher was probably like ?!?!
Recently I received an email saying ‘Meg no one believes in me or encourages me’. So I want to tell you my Dad’s story because it inspires me and I think it might inspire you too…
My Dad decided he wanted to be a teacher when he was in secondary school and he told his careers advisor who heartlessly replied with ‘You’ll never be a teacher, you’re only good for being a bricklayer.’
It was around that time that his inspirational geography teacher Pete Bradley told him that he had talent for the subject and, thanks to Mr Bradley, my Dad left school with just one GCSE (in geography!). Before he left Mr Bradley said ‘If you want to pursue teaching you’ll have to work really hard but go for it, you can do it.’
So my Dad didn’t just leave school with a GCSE, or O-Level as they were called back then, but also with an utter determination to become a teacher.
To cut a long story quite a bit shorter, after many years of relentless studying, training and learning my Dad achieved his dream and became a teacher and survival specialist.
He’s spent 40 years teaching geography and survival skills, leading polar explorations, wilderness courses and mountaineering expeditions throughout the UK and Scandinavia and spent a number of years working for the MOD as a Combat Survival Instructor – wow! He totally did it!
My Dad aimed really high even though certain people told him he couldn’t achieve his dream. He could have listened to the negative voices but instead he chose to listen to the positive encouraging voice.
What does aiming high look like?
I went out with my Dad for a coffee last week to hear more about his story and aiming high. We sat for ages discussing some of the things we’ve learnt about pursuing our dreams and here’s what we agree is important…
If you want to aim high and achieve you’re going to need to focus your attention. This is all about giving time to study and learning to learn. Prioritise! Are there things you need to do less of? Or more of? Get yourself into a good rhythm and use your time wisely.
2. LISTEN & LEARN
We can learn so much from one another, especially the people who have gone before us. If there’s something you want to achieve, seek the people you can learn from. Ask questions, listen and soak up their advice. It’s often helpful to keep a journal of the things you’re learning and finding out.
3. PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE
And I’ll say it again, practise. This is about perfecting your craft and honing your skill. I’ve heard some say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something so begin today and keep at it.
4. BE MOTIVATED
Get up and go! You have so much potential. The last thing you want is to look back and regret not making the most of your time or talents. Be brave and take a step forward.
5. BE HUMBLE
‘humble’ : adjective hum·ble: Not proud : not thinking of yourself as better than other people, respectful.
Remember, you’re no bigger, better or more important than anyone else. Don’t puff your chest and try to impress but instead strive to have a quiet inner strength. Equally, remember no one else is bigger, better or more important than you. Try not to be intimidated by others along your journey, but have confidence in your own skills and talents.
6. FAILURE ISN’T FINAL
My Dad said ‘I’ve made many, many mistakes along the way and after 40 years I’m still learning. I’ve definitely learnt more from my mistakes than I have my successes.’ Don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong. Failure isn’t final unless you let it finish you, it’s just a step along the journey to achievement.
In life some people will doubt your abilities – they may try to put you down or make you feel inferior but, like my Dad, choose to defy those negative voices. Know that you have unique gifts and talents.
So, I’ll leave it there for now – that’s a whole lot to be getting on with!
But let me recap: Do you want to aim high?
Then be careful who you listen to,
…and remember, failure isn’t final.