Many years ago, when I was about 14 years old, my mother had that conversation with me; not THAT conversation, but the one about my future, my ambitions and my dreams. I remember being very clear about it. I told her that if I could spend my life writing, communicating and making a difference then I'd be happy.
After a few years of stumbling around half-heartedly trying to make it as an actor, I met a woman who changed my life. She was a teaching student at University of Derby the where I had just started. For some reason, she agreed to go on a date with me and as our relationship developed, she started to discover more about me and my ambitions. She helped me crystallise my vague dreams into something tangible and introduced me to the idea of teaching. She then supported and encouraged me through my degree and post graduate qualifications; she gave me a clear sense of aspiration.
From that first day in the classroom I knew I had found my purpose.
This year is a major year. It is the year when that incredible woman and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary; it is also the year our 'little girl' starts her teaching career. We couldn't be prouder. She, like us (my wife is a Headteacher), has chosen to start her career in a challenging community. She, like us, knows that there are tough days ahead but we know her sense of purpose will carry her through, like it has for us.
In our world, momentous times always lead to times of reflection. The three of us were talking recently about education and a little about life. I told our daughter about the conversation I'd had with her grandmother all those years ago and my daughter smiled and said "well, you've done it haven't you; you spend your life living your dream".
She was right. As our conversation progressed, we discussed teaching and leadership and what they have in common.
Here's what we reckon:
Both have a major role to play in helping people to find their sense of purpose; that sweet spot that helps you feel of value, that gives you the energy to drive on and that helps you access your resilience, ambition and belief.
Both help people to dream and help them turn that dream into an aspiration; something tangible, something that you can really achieve, given the right support, directions and commitment.
Maybe this is why the idea of helping people to discover their own sense of purpose has never been so important and why great leadership has never been so in demand.
Working on this concept has become my next purpose; thank you to the three most important women in my life; mother, wife, daughter; teachers and leaders all!