March 20, 2013

for those people that dull your sparkle.

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One of the first and most inspirational stories I remember from when I was younger was the story of Tim Martin, the founder of J D Wetherspoon, who named his chain of pubs after a negative teacher he’d had in New Zealand, a teacher who’d said he would never make it as a business man. He now runs a chain with over 850 outlets and is one of the biggest in the world. I remember thinking that this was the best story ever: he gave a big middle-finger up to the teacher who said he couldn’t do it.

After all, success is the best revenge.

We’ve all got a J D Wetherspoon. Whether it’s a mean boss, horrible teacher, University lecturer, a playground bully or maybe even an Internet troll, these types of people you will often come across in life who set out to tell you something is not possible. And recently, my perception of them has changed. I now realise that you actually need these people; the one’s that try with all their might to make you feel small or to make you believe you cannot do it. In fact, we need these people as much as we do the one’s that encourage and motivate us. If you flip it right round, they may be the reason for your success. Weirdly, you might end up thanking them, for fuelling you to prove them wrong.

[Awkward cue for Christina Aguilera’s 2003 pop song “Fighter”.]

Strangely, I heard another pub success story this week which inspired me to write this post. I spotted a theme. Chris O’Dowd also gave a fantastic speech at the Irish Spirit Awards last week in NYC. He engaged the audience in a story of the man who grafted all day and night in a pub which had the sign “no blacks, no dogs, no Irish” on the door. This Irish man was not allowed to drink at the pub he worked so hard in. He worked day and night and saved his money slowly. Years later, he went downstairs and went into the pub….and he bought it. He renamed the pub “The ‘Black Dog”.

I’m sure there are so many more stories out there where the person saying you cannot do it may well be the biggest motivator you’ve ever had. But it’s also up to you to turn it into some positive.

After all: one University lecturer once told me I should probably give up writing. To me, this is more of a reason never to stop.

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