Things I Wish I had Known 20 Years Ago

Last Friday, I went back to my old school after over 20 years and presented to young people who were about to make career and university decisions.

It was an amazing day going back to my roots after so many years!

So much had changed and yet so much was still the same. Amazingly one of the teachers from my days was still there.

Working with such young people is certainly very rewarding as in the course of just a few minutes I had the opportunity to positively impact their lives.

You feel so much for them as young people today have so many pressures, demands and expectations in an increasingly tense and fragile world with traditional family values and support structures breaking down.

Yet the key is we must continue to believe in them and nurture their dreams as our future depends on them.

The children seemed much younger than when I was there – or maybe that just shows how much I have grown, aged and changed. They seemed much smarter, more savvy and more confident than in my time.

Some were starry–eyed and others were simply bashful – but I did have immediate rapport being a former pupil. All of them were full of dreams and hopes for the future – and yet there was an undercurrent of uncertainty and vulnerability.

I briefly shared my life experiences and my key learnings. I emphasised how much the changing and increasingly fragile world needed aspiring young people like them today – and how each and every one of them had so much to offer the world.

We debated some of the challenges we face today – such as global warming, war, scarce resources etc. It was striking how well informed they were about world affairs – this was certainly not the case in my time.

I got them all to visualise and think about their own life goals and write them down. I then invited some of them to share their goals in front of their peers – and it was clear most wanted the same thing – good jobs, money, car, nice house, loving partner, world travel etc.

However, quite a few also wanted to help and contribute to society such as working in the developing world, doing social work and joining a caring profession such as nursing.

It was really heartening to learn that goals based on contribution and making a difference were just as prevalent as materialistic goals.

One young man called “Marvelous” confidently shared how he wanted to be a professional wrestler. He lived up to his name as his real name was indeed Marvelous! I could not have scripted it better 🙂

All in all a very fulfilling day – and I feel I probably got more out of the day than the pupils. It was truly humbling to be able to give back something to the school that made me who I am today.

So if you ever get a chance to go back and present at your own old school, then jump at the opportunity!

Finally at the end of the day, I was given a donation for Nirvana School. My old school had secretly arranged for each of the young people to contribute £1 so as to sponsor a Nirvana child. I felt I had come full circle, now having a connection between the two schools which had shaped my life.

My talk was titled “Things I wish I had known 20 years ago”. Some of the things I wish I had known 20 years ago are:-

• Keep in touch with more school friends
• Believe in myself more and not listen to doubtful, fearful people
• Ask for help more often
• Learn about money management
• Really go for my school day dreams and not settle for second best.
• Have more fun.

What sort of things do you wish YOU had known when you were at school?

young people striving for a bright future

Top image courtesy of ~Xtinalicious

9 Smart Ways to FOCUS in the Age of Distraction

Get this life-changing guide, absolutely free, along with weekly Make It Happen tips delivered directly to your inbox. Just type in your email address below.


  1. It sounds like the day was truly MARVELOUS!

    It’s great that you got to share your experiences with them, they must have got so much from the day!

    I’ve got my next school event in April which is getting the students ready for work experience which should be a lot of fun! 🙂

    Congratulations and lets hope that you get to do the same at another school again soon!


  2. Thank you Amit!

    It really was a marvelous day in more ways than one.

    Good luck with your school event 🙂

    Just let me know when we can do a school evnt together!

  3. GO! Smell the flowers says

    Great post Arvind…

    The memories camne flooding back…I always remember the 6th formers in school looking like real adults when I was approaching my early teens. Then as that passed – well it was people in their 30’s who looked like real adults…nope…make that 50…? It’s all about perception – right? A good job 50 is the new 30 – that makes me a teenager and long may my inner child remain whatever society says!

  4. I wish I’d known more about language. For some reason we tend to teach useless language. French is not relevant outside of France yet we push it on our kids.
    Maybe learning to say hello, please, thank you in say 10 languages is better than learning a poem about a French cat (something we had to do). On my travels I always try and learn those basics before I land. It has paid dividends too, not only does it break the ice and show respect it has helped me in that inital first impression that is so important in business. I learnt how to say ‘monikom’ when I was working in Chennai and lately I have used some of my very limited Tamil at a new restaurant in Changhcun, China. The Indian guys who opened it where gobsmacked and it earned me a VIP discount card – now that is useful.


  1. […] Earlier this year I visited my old school after almost 20 years and delivered a few workshops to students about to mak… […]

9 Smart Ways to Focus in the Age of Distraction


Get this life-changing guide, absolutely free, along with weekly Make It Happen tips delivered directly to your inbox.


Just type in your email address below:-