Never limit your potential by the way you think

Recently I attended a dinner to announce the Tool Black team, a group of 14 of New Zealand’s top apprentices who are going to compete against other trade apprentices in Sao Paulo in three months’ time. The dinner was the final step before going to compete on the international stage against 72 other countries.

Leading up to this event they had undergone intensive training, often at their own expense, to become the best in their particular trade. This meant many hours over and above those that apprentices normally clock up. These young people are dedicated to achieving excellence in their chosen fields ranging from plumbing,- electrical to floristry and hairdressing.

These young people are not only committed to being New Zealand’s best but they are now focused on being the world’s best in their chosen fields.

Apart from the many extra hours of training, they have also competed and won at the National competitions, and competed in the Oceania competitions. Competitors came from Australia, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Canada and New Zealand. The organisers selected the team for Sao Paulo following the results from that competition.

Some of the stories I hear about these young people are inspiring. For example, when one was told he needed to smarten up his appearance, he hired an image consultant at his own expense. This same young man also paid for public speaking lessons when his mentor also told him he needed to improve his skills. At 21 he owns his own home. The stunning thing about this young man is that if you had seen him two years ago you would have walked straight past and not given him a glance. In fact, if anything, you might have deliberately avoided him, given the company he kept. Now he will lead the haka when the Tool Blacks perform it at the opening ceremony in Sao Paulo. There are many stories like this one. They are inspirational.

So they deserved an inspirational speaker for the evening. And they got one. Marcus Akuhata Brown spoke for an hour about the way we can be trained by those around us to limit our dreams. He used an example of an experiment that demonstrated we only venture as far as our self-belief allows us. Fleas in a box with a glass lid only jumped as high as the lid allowed even after the experimenters removed the lid. They could jump much higher but perceived that was as high as they could go because of their training.

He used that to demonstrate how his belief that he was dumb could have led to his leaving school early had it not been for a teacher who told him he could complete seventh form and that he should aim for that. The act of someone believing in him gave him the courage to stay at school. To his surprise, he became Head Boy. He then went to University and Teachers College and from there to become Principal of Huarahi Youth Correction Facility. In 1998 he was the Pan Commonwealth Youth Representative, Commonwealth Youth Programme, and chaired the Commonwealth Youth Caucus. He put it all down to that teacher telling him he could achieve whatever he set his mind to.

He then went on to tell the young people to achieve their potential by unlimited thinking, to believe and trust that they could go wherever their hearts and dedication would take them.

 

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