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. 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. No matter how bad things seem, there is always hope, and there are always people who are willing to help you. All you have to do is reach out and grab the hand that's offering to pull you up. 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. Don't put up with a life that isn't right for you - you can change whatever you want. 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. Whatever happens, get up and carry on. Mark Prince was one of our guests 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. It's not the strong that survive. 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 drink, or crime, 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. 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.
6. Find a role model. Many of our young men felt that they had gone wrong in life because they had no-one to look up to, no-one to guide them and keep them on the right path. Well, what stops you from finding your own mentor? After all, they're in your life right now, you're just not listening to them.
7. Do it like you mean it. When you're running down a cold, wet rugby pitch and an opposing player is running towards you like a charging rhinoceros, he can see your fear, he knows that you're going to flinch first, and he knows he's going to take the ball off you. Now make yourself that player, charging like a steam train, fixing your eye on your goal and pushing all distractions out of the way. Approach everything in life with commitment and you'll simply get further, faster.
8. The meaning is up to you. Bad things happen to everyone in life, but the real winners are the people who take life's events and choose to see them in a positive way. For example, Michael Henderson, who was captain of the Croydon team, had a great saying about the physical aspect of the training, "pain is weakness leaving the body". Whether that's true or not won't change how you feel, so you might as well choose the more positive outlook.
9. You are not your behaviour. We've had young men coming through the show who have been abused in their lives, who have spent time in prison, who have done all kinds of unthinkable things, yet those men are worth no less and no more than any one of us. Whatever you've done or not done, you are not your behaviour, you're more than that, if you choose to be.
10. It's never too late. No matter how far you think you've travelled down the wrong road in life, you are only ever one step away from the right one. It's not about the distance you've travelled, it's about your commitment to change. Take that step now, and you'll immediately be heading in the right direction.
I hope these ten lessons that I've learned help you to achieve more of the life you want too, and remember, at the School of Hard Knocks, it's always time for your next lesson.
Paul Boross is "The Pitch Doctor", an internationally recognised authority on communications, presentation, performance and "the art and science of persuasion." Paul appears regularly on worldwide conference programmes, at international television and media events and in feature articles. Paul has worked with many executives in a range of organisations such as the BBC, Google, The Financial Times, Barclays and MTV, as well as public figures such as Sir Richard Branson, Ainsley Harriott and Sky newscaster, Dermot Murnaghan. Paul is the resident team psychologist and presenter on the ongoing SKY TV series School of Hard Knocks. The new series of SOHK started on Saturday 16th August at 10PM on Sky Sports and is repeated on Sundays on Sky One at 10PM
Paul has now authored three books; The Pitching Bible, The Pocket Pitching Bible and Pitch Up! Visit www.thepitchdoctor.tv to learn more.
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