Seizing opportunities.

In the film Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino plays an America Football coach and in it he delivers one of my favourite movie motivational talks (video below – a teensie bit sweary!).

One of his key messages is that the future is 6 inches in front of our face, a sentiment I absolutely agree with and one thats been ruminating with me for a while, never more so than in the last few weeks.

I’ve been at Nottingham Business School for 7 weeks now, 2 for Personal and Professional Development and 5 for studies, and in that time I’ve been exposed to a great deal of academic journals and books – most of which were out of my reach prior to starting the course.

However, one of the things of most interest has been in my grasp for the 5 years I’ve lived in Nottingham, and it’s available to every resident who cares to reach for it. It’s almost certainly available to you wherever you might live.

The Universities, thats Nottingham Trent and Nottingham, invite speakers to come in and give lectures to anyone who is willing and able to listen. For free. Let me repeat that last, crucial part. For Free.

Now that may not sound particularly interesting in and of itself, but bear in mind that which I said at the beginning, the future is right in front of us – and it’s changing and evolving all the time based on choices that we make, choices that define and shape our thoughts.

So in the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure to hear from experts in Corporate Social Responsibility talking about making businesses more accountable, the Chair of the General Medical Council talking about Doctors and change in the NHS (fascinating!), yesterday I listened to the MD of Experian talk about how ‘Data’ is changing our society – I promise you it’s more interesting that it sounds! – and today I’ve had a tear-inducing 90 minutes listening to Professor Sir Albert Aynsley-Green talk about children as the future and the education system of England – as a parent I feel bad for not having heard of his name, he was the first independent Children’s Commissioner for England from 2005 – 2010.

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Today’s lecture was attended by over 200 people, a great deal from the education system both in schools and local government, however it was available all and sundry who cared to attend – so all of a sudden 200 doesn’t seem so good in a city with a population of 700,000!

If I wasn’t a university student I wouldn’t have attended, I simply wouldn’t have known it was happening – I wouldn’t have looked! And that’s the problem, just not looking at the things which are there for us already. I’d have spent the night on Facebook, maybe have gone for a ride, perhaps have watched a film on Netflix – instead I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the job my children’s head teacher performs, for the role of their teachers and for the sheer scale of the challenge on us as parents and citizens of the Uk, and dare I say it, the World, to ensure that our children have the future we would wish for them! – and yes, it made me teary!

It may sound trite, but the next time I do the school run I will ensure I thank the class teachers for their work in caring for and educating my little treasures.

But the crux of this posting is quite simple, there are some fantastic opportunities to go out and hear from experts, from respected thought leaders and dignitaries in our communities – and we really should be taking the opportunity to listen to them. Whether it’s about an issue affecting us right now, a historical lesson or a modern day entrepreneur speaking about their passion, the lessons we can learn are all around us – just waiting for us to reach for them.

Please check out your local university, chamber of commerce or college – they have a website, you have a browser – it will take 30 seconds. See what is available. Attend, be enlightened, be expanded. Or not.

The future really is just 6 inches in front of us, if we don’t reach out it will be behind us before we realise.

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