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Tom came to teaching with one goal in mind – to be an inspiration. He continues this mission by providing workshops for students and teachers in all aspects of learning to learn.


Think it worked

It did...


Desiderata - whoever she may be!

Tom Barwood

Recently I delivered a workshop at my daughter's school. This was part of their 'Bright Futures' project. Fortunately for my daughter it was not her year group and fortunately for the school, as I am a Governor as well as a parent, I did it for free.

It was a lovely session to deliver as it involved the favourite slice from my favourite workshop and a relatively small group of polite and well engaged students for just over an hour.

One of the quotes which this group uses as a mantra is one from Salvador Dali which states that 'Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings'. Having been reminded by Linked In recently that I have been working as a consultant for seventeen years I have been absorbing myself in the deadly routine of ruminating on my past and asking where it has taken me.

This process was made worse by bumping into the MD of a local supply teaching agency who started off in the office next door to me in a small business centre and now has a company which occupies the whole floor of a much bigger business centre both here and in numerous other towns. As for me, I am back working from a room at home to save on costs!

Now I know that the Desiderata tell us that 'if you compare yourself to others you may become vain and bitter for there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself' but I couldn't help thinking 'Where did I go wrong?'. (Cue the negative internal dialogue of my Dad, the successful entrepreneur.....).

As I pondered this in the early hours of the morning I kept asking myself - is it the case that I lack vision or lack ambition? Are ambitious people just like the rest of us but they have such a compelling goal/vision that it makes them ambitious or are there people who are just naturally ambitious and goal/vision setting is part of that mind set? 

I have taught sessions on goal setting for years now and really enjoy it. I think the truth is that we are all motivated and focused but simply not around the same things. Quite frankly, despite my best attempts, I am not that interested in 'business'. I tend to measure my wealth in terms of experiences, places I have been, people I have interacted with and - anything to do with sport, sports equipment, the outdoors and having fun; all of which brings me back to the three questions of success I shared with the students which are:

1) What is that you want - that will make you feel successful? (note the highlighted words!)
2) How much do you want it? (on a scale from 1 - 10 where 10 = you would die without it)
3) What are you prepared to do to get it? (without harming others)

Maybe I have the luxury of not having to work that hard and that in altered circumstances I would be a very different person. Maybe it has yet to come? As Martin Luther once said 'It is your friends who will tell you what you can do but your enemies what you must do'.

Perhaps it is Shakespeare who has the last word when, in 'Hamlet', Polonius counsels Laertes 'This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell: my blessing season this in thee! '