Have you ever had a turning point day in your life? I’m sure you have. And in my experience, there are 2 types of turning point day. There are the ones you had no idea were going o happen when you got up that morning. Maybe that was the day that you met your life partner. Maybe it was the day someone close to you unexpectedly got their angel wings. Perhaps it was the day you had a lottery win or a promotion at work.

Potentially it was more subtle than that – it was the day you made a decision that took your life on a different path or the day that you met someone who later turned out to be a catalyst in your life. Those days you can look back on and pinpoint as a turning point – but you can’t see it at the time. Life works in retrospect frequently like that doesn’t it.

And then there are the other turning point days – the ones that you know are going to be a turning point. The days where you try to capture and remember every moment. Some of them are big and obvious and involve many people. It could be your wedding day, your graduation the birth of your child, the funeral of your loved one. It could be your 21st, your 60th, your 1st wedding anniversary – or your 25th, it could be the day you retire or take up important office. Maybe the day your first book is published and launched to the world.

All these days are important and spent with others.

Today is a historic day for me. It is the end of an era. And I shall spend it alone. When I say alone – there will be people, but no-one will understand the importance of this day unless they too have had a day like this. You see, today my 17-year-old daughter takes her last A level exam.

Doesn’t sound that historic right? Not quite the pizazz of a wedding or the pathos of a funeral. But it incorporates all of those things. For her, it is the end of her school days. It is the relief of NO MORE EXAMS, nor more being told what to do and when to do it (or so she thinks), it is the end of being a child and being treated as a child. It is the start of her adult life. Oh the excitement, the not knowing what comes next, the endless possibilities open to her.

For me, it is a day of mixed feelings. I am so proud of the woman she is becoming and at the same time am mourning the passing of her childhood. This, of course, is entirely my problem and I shall share it with no-one (except you dear reader), as partly my sadness is because of the slight feeling of regret that I have been so busy running my business that I have missed some of her childhood. I must have for it seems to have passed too quickly for me to have been there – if you know what I mean.

I am excited for her as I remember this time as if it were yesterday. The big unknown out there – waiting for me – with you knew what adventures to come. And she has adventures lined up. She is doing things I only dreamed of – going to Barcelona for her 18th with her best friends, then to Madrid with her Spanish best friend, then to Barbados with us (maybe but hopefully not our last big family holiday), and in the New Year – going to spend 3 or 4 months with her cousins in Australia, on a working holiday. And THEN – then she is going to think about what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Oh, how I wish I had done that. I was going to do it later. Later never came. Not in a – young, free and single way anyway.

And yet, I am also worried for her. Because (and here comes the soapbox), our children are not being prepared for the world of work. They have no clue as to what is expected of them, and the way they are taught to learn is of little use in today’s world. There are no careers for life anymore (except for vocationally), and the skills you need to succeed in this world, are not learnt in the textbooks and classrooms of this country.

Never – in all your working life – will you ever have to sit at your desk and write (longhand) for 2.5 hours, and try to remember a load of stuff. There is this thing called Google – it gives you all the answers. And by the way – it is attached to a keyboard – so you don’t have to write anything anymore. I agree you DO need to know spelling and grammar, because even with the development of spell check and Grammarly – you actually need to KNOW how to spell or do grammar to know if spell check is correct!

You also need basic maths – I mean arithmetic, not Pythagoras. And a bit of geography doesn’t go amiss. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and I am not against learning it in schools – in all its rainbow varieties. However, the stuff that you actually DO need to know is missing – how do you run a household, and how do you budget for example. How do you become a good neighbour, a good person? How do you find your passion and follow it? How do you contribute to society? How do you CARE – for your fellow man, for the environment, for the old, the vulnerable, the poor, the persecuted? And why should you care? How do you run a business? How do you offer ‘customer care’ how do you create something from scratch that didn’t exist before and turn it into a commercially viable product or service?

These things are not taught adequately at school, if at all. And they certainly aren’t assessed by “exams”. And not only, in my opinion, are exams pretty useless for real life, they are also an enormous and unnecessary stress. Our young people are more ‘assessed’, the schools have more criteria they have to hit, and it ends up putting the kids under so much stress that there is a real and present depression and suicide problem. This needs to be dealt with, and quickly. We are losing young people every day – either that have taken their own life, or who have spiralled into a lifetime problem with depression. And it is so unnecessary. Such a waste.

Because, of course, at 16 or 18, it seems that success in life is only to be achieved by success in GCSE’s and then A levels. Well, anyone who is past 25 will agree that exams are pretty unimportant. No-one – except for the University I went to – has EVER asked what A levels I got, let alone what grade I achieved. It is laughable. And there are SO many examples of successful business people and entrepreneurs, who never went to University, never did A-levels, and got ‘rubbish’ marks in their GCSE’s or O Levels – or whatever they took at the time.

And of course, you can tell your kids as much as you want, but they won’t believe you because you are their parents – what do YOU know. I remember thinking the same about my parents. It is funny – yesterday I found an old tin of stuff from my Mum’s house. In it were all the letters I received at university (yes I did go and I did love it, but this was in the days when you didn’t have to get 50k into debt to do a degree). One of the letters was from my Dad (who got HIS angel wings in 2006), and in it, he said to me – “I know you think you should go into HR and maybe that’s a plan, but I see you in Sales and Marketing”. How right he was. I hated HR at Mark’s and Spencer and went to work for 10 (mostly happy) years at Yellow Pages – before returning to recruitment and now Social Media.

Sorry, Dad! You were right.

So – how do you get on in life and business? Here are my top 7 tips.

Listen to your parents! Lol – like that will ever happen until you become a parent.
Do what you love – life is too short – even if you live a ‘long’ life. Far too short to do something you hate.
Develop curiosity. Look at a problem and work out a solution. This world needs problem solvers
Develop a love of change. There are 2 things which are guaranteed in life. Death. And Change. You can’t anything to change either of those – so you better learn to love change.
Give before you get. If you think about how you can help others – how you can add value, then you won’t go far wrong.
Take time for you every day – to walk, to think, to step out of life’s busyness for 10 minutes
Don’t settle. Keep stretching your comfort zone. If you don’t…..ah well, thats next weeks blog.

So, whatever importance today holds for you – have a good one. Maybe it will turn out to be a turning point day for you too.