A Few Wise Words – Top Tips for Young People From Seven Extraordinary Individuals

How can young people make the most of this time of uncertainty to lay the ground for future success? Let’s be honest: times are tough for them right now. As they see education and career opportunities cut short, they are among the worst hit by the long-term effects of the pandemic. With a series of grim forecasts for their future prospects, it’s no wonder if they are feeling at loss – and so are their parents, struggling to help them get through such challenging times. But now is not the time to give up.

Featuring contributions from personalities across the worlds of business, sport and the arts, A Few Wise Words is a new compilation of inspirational advice from 22 exceptional individuals, who share their own experience, and offer words of reassurance and their top tips to young generations. They prove that living in challenging circumstances does not have to be a barrier to a happy, fulfilling life. And we could all do with a trusted voice reminding us of this right now.

  1. Find your passion – Sir Ben Ainslie
    My advice to any young person is that you absolutely have to find something you are passionate about. If you are not passionate about it, then it’s not right for you. In order to be successful at something, you are going to have to work very hard at making it happen – and you’re simply not going to commit the time or the energy to something for which you lack genuine enthusiasm. One of the keys to success, therefore, is to keep looking until you find that thing.
  2. Work Hard – Dame Katherine Grainger
    Once you have found your passion for something that you want to do, then it can take a lot of work to turn that passion into success. It’s a truism to say that people who have become very successful in life will have worked extremely hard in order to achieve that. Even the most talented and most naturally gifted people I have ever met will mostly credit their success to having worked very, very hard to get there.
  3. Be brave – Joanna Lumley
    We all have to face those difficult moments where one must be brave and one must be strong. If you’re feeling inadequate, don’t indulge it. Get hold of it and shape up a little. For an actor feeling terribly nervous on stage, you go on, your heart’s banging and you think, ‘I can’t speak . . .!’ and someone says, ‘Just get on with it and do your darn lines!’ and so you just get on with it. Once you’ve successfully read your lines, you think, ‘Oh, OK, I’ve done it!’ You’ve managed to push past your inadequacy at that moment. But it’s the learning and the doing of it that makes you stronger, and from now on, when you do face another challenging moment in the future and your heart is banging away, you know that you can do it! So, just be brave and be strong.
  4. The importance of dreaming – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
    One of the most practical things you can ever do is dream. I’m constantly puzzled by the fact that people can take a month or even a year planning a holiday, but they don’t even take one day to plan a life. The most important thing you can do when planning your life is to dream.  Explore the world of possibilities and see which one really speaks to you.
  5. Self-education – Sir Clive Woodward
    When it comes to learning and acquiring knowledge, I will often say to young people: ‘OK, so your parents are doing that for you . . . your school and your teachers do that for you . . . or your employer does that for you. So what, then, are you doing?’ There is only so much that we can receive from others, and if everything is given to us on a plate, I don’t think that ever works either. It has to be self-education and it has to come from within – you have to find that inner drive to want to study and want to learn more.
  6. Aim High! – Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
    We have a saying in my family, which is to ‘aim high!’ Set yourself a goal that stretches you, dream about achieving it and just go for it! Unless you try, you will never achieve. And that’s exactly what I did. It is then about creating the right attitude around what you have to do, working hard and being persistent, building your self-belief and simply being positive about your future.
  7. Apply yourself at school  – Sir Roger Carr
    For all young people, before deciding on the direction of further education and career, you must first apply yourself and work hard to become equipped with the best school qualifications you can possibly achieve. A gram of effort made today will save you a kilo of effort in later life.

These extracts are taken from A Few Wise Words, out now. This book conveys extraordinary stories of success from twenty-two exceptional individuals and their most inspirational advice. Available from Amazon, Waterstones and other leading booksellers.