Somewhere in the UK is a young boy, a young girl. They are watching the television transfixed by the Olympics. They may or may not come from deprived backgrounds, and they may or may not have both parents to support and nurture them. Within those young genes is a person whom will one day run faster, leap further, swim harder, and fight smarter than anyone else.
I say perhaps, because they will not achieve these goals in isolation. Success, for the most part is the result of a collective effort, a combined culture of effort and creativity and belief and sheer hard work. It doesn't come easy, and for most of us doesn't come in a hurry.
Let's leave our young child for a while and zoom outward, the entire UK flickering beneath our gaze. A nation of 60-70 million, a multi cultural milieu of life and passion and possibilities. What do we have to do to forge a culture where we all get to chase down our dreams? Where everybody actually believes that they have a fighting chance to be more than they are today?
The answer is the same. It will take collective effort, a combined culture of creativity and belief and sheer hard work. And one of the skins we have to shed along the way is any sense that we are automatically entitled to be successful, wealthy, or deserving. I think many of us tacitly hold this errant view, and in so many ways we have been hamstrung by it. When I think of the things I have achieved, those I'm proudest of have been the result of toil, bloody mindedness, a refusal to give in. I had been writing for two decades before I published a book; I'd spent years in every job I've ever had improving what I do and how I do it. Whilst in relationships I've learned from mistakes, listened to the needs of others and tried to adapt my behaviour when required. In short, nothing came easy. But come it did. Eventually. And I can look back and be proud, safe in the knowledge that no short cuts were taken. Nor did I ever feel I was owed a living, or happiness, or hope. These things we must forge through the sweat of our brow. In so many ways we have to believe we can be the answer to our own questions, and when we have a nation of people with such an outlook you are already half way towards nurturing a culture that's going to get better, stronger, more resilient.
There is a quite obvious contradiction in this blog, a call to both the individual and the collective. This is quite deliberate. We have to believe in ourselves and also empower others to belief in themselves. From these building blocks dreams are forged, hopes are realised, and nations changed.