Episode 32

21st Century Skills with Nik Pandya

Published on: 8th June, 2022

Primary school teacher Nik Pandya started his teaching career in an inner city school in London before relocating to Barcelona. After becoming frustrated with the current state of the education system, Nik is now developing projects to transform primary school education, in order to equip children with more relevant life skills for our modern times. In this interview, Nik shares with us:

  • what 21st century skills are and why developing them from a young age is so critical
  • what the role of education should be and how the current model is failing our children
  • why it’s more difficult to teach 21st century skills than to teach for exams and grades
  • how he deals with both the inner and outer critics when embarking on such a major project
  • why he surrounds himself with supportive people who will critically question his choices

For more information about Nik’s projects, see www.21skillshub.co.uk

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Music: Pablito's Way by Paolo Pavan

Transcript
Maribel:

Well, hello and welcome. We are very happy to have you with us. We have today, Nik Pandya, whom I met on Lunch Club and from that conversation, I just thought we have got to have you in our show because Nik is involved in, or is leading, a super interesting project. I'll let him tell you about it. So Nik, welcome. Would you care to tell us what you do and what your audacious project is?

Nik:

Sure. Well, thank you for having me. So, I’m in education. I started off with a degree in law and then after about three or four years, I realised that wasn't my path for sure. So my family are teachers, my sister was a teacher, so I went into education and I became a primary school teacher in London. So I always refer to myself as a teacher first and foremost. And then I decided to move to Barcelona to try a different way of living. Being a teacher allowed me to do so. And I moved on to more of a leadership role within an international school. I ended up becoming an assistant director. I invested in a school and I started to get the freedom to run wider projects than just the exams, the grades, the kind of normal route. So I started to run different projects based on skills, based on developing children's, we call them values in the school. Values, life skills, but what we wanted to do and what I noticed in the school was that, whilst there are quite a few formulas to getting good grades, I felt like some children were lacking certain skills in order to handle things, not only within school but also outside of school. So things to do with relationships, things to do with handling disappointment, things to do with handling success, because I think that's also a skill. And so I started working on small projects to assess these and work with children on these and then communicating them to the families to say, are you interested in learning more about your child's interpersonal skills or in your child's resilience? And I got an overwhelming reaction from parents. They say, yes, grades are grades, but we really want to know how they do socially and things like that. So I basically started running projects to do with to the school, problem solving ones, things to do with mindfulness. And I had huge success with this. We actually ended up teaming up with UNICEF, and running great projects with them from UNICEF UK and I really found my niche for teaching, I found my passion. And ironically, after focusing more on the skills, all of a sudden the grades started to improve without so much pressure on them, and the confidence levels of the students improved. So I took this with me and when I left the school, I knew I wanted to pursue this. It wasn't a case of finding another school and going again, it was what can I do with this knowledge? I’d been doing this for five or six years working on this teaching style. I, of course, was training leaders, training teachers, we were all doing this. So my idea was to basically put this all down in one place. So all the skills that we worked on and researched and got experts to help us with. we decided to create a framework of 21st century skills and having it online so everyone can come on and access these — parents, teachers, schools, students themselves, and they could have this hub where they could access all the information, lesson plans, advice and also almost a community of people who want to develop these 21st century skills. So I put together a team of like-minded professionals who are super motivated by this. We started researching, contacting different people to collaborate with, and now we actually have, I'd say a beta version of the framework of the site and we'd love to get this curriculum essentially out there to schools all over the world, and then later move on to working with adults because we've had some interest from companies who want to also develop these 21st century skills. So it's an ongoing curriculum. It's not one answer for everything. It takes constant research, constant development, but it's something that I'm really passionate about and I'm really looking forward to launching.

Maribel:

Wow, amazing. That's great. So what was it that you saw in the classroom that made you think the issue here is not maths, it's something else?

Nik:

It was a few things actually. Just taking maths for example, I just remember a child coming to me on my first day of teaching this class. She was about 10 years old and she walked in very confidently and she said to me, ‘You know, Nik, just so that you know, I'm no good at maths. I'm great at literacy English, but I'm no good at maths.” And I thought, ‘Wow, 10 years old, you’re pretty made your mind up. Okay. That's interesting.’ So I said to her, ‘Okay, here's what we'll do. We won’t do maths today, we'll do something else.” And she's like, “Great!” So then I introduced a character on the board. I said “This is my friend (for some reason I called him George) and here are his accounts, his monthly accounts and he's losing money and he can't afford money for food. Can we help him? Instead of doing maths today, can we just sit around and look at his life and lifestyle and try to solve this problem?” And so they’re “Of course, great, great!” Because it was real life, it felt like real life. So they all sat together and they started to work on this project and they were arguing and they were asking me things like, what's a mortgage and what's interest and how do you calculate interest and use percentages? So I ended up going around, they were doing addition, but they were talking. They were living and breathing maths in a real life context. And in the end they succeeded. They did really well, we had good conversations and the child came up to me at the end and said, “Oh, can we do this instead of maths?” And I was saying to her, “What you did today was pure maths. It was maths in the real world. It was what you’ll need to know and you did very well at this stuff.” And I felt like there's such a disconnect between sometimes the curriculum and what's actually going on. And it's very easy just to continue teaching off the same curriculum because you could find a formula and become very good at it and be called a good teacher, but then also I’m thinking, what is a teacher? Is it someone that can follow bullet points and objectives, or is it someone that can inspire and give children skills to go on and be successful in life? So I had this moment where I went back to basics and philosophy and just trying to figure out, why did I want to become a teacher? And I thought, Okay, well, definitely success in the real world. That's what I want to do. So that was one of the things that really made me think. The other thing was that I felt that the resilience levels of the children was, in my opinion, lowering, so with any kind of setback that was happening within the class, I just felt like a breakdown a lot of the times and I felt like I was working with a lot of educational psychologists and I felt like, wow, we're not equipping the children with the skills. We need to help them, we need to teach them these concepts of just breathing in moments of stress and difficulty, or empathising, especially with things like bullying, which are all the things that we have to deal with in the school. And I just thought, well, there's just a lack of empathy between the students here. And so we started to run workshops and classes and even for some of the parents as well, we had to engage with them. So leaving that setting really made me feel like, what's more important? That I get students to get the objectives and the grades and pat myself on the back, or that I go for something way more meaningful, way more useful, way more difficult, to be honest? And I realised that's what I want to do. And I thought maybe I'm alone in this, but then I spoke to several teachers who completely agree and would love to get involved. So that strengthened my focus here to go ahead and do this.

Maribel:

Amazing.

Nik:

That was a bit of a long answer.

Maribel:

No, that's perfect. What makes teaching these interpersonal skills more difficult than the regular curriculum?

Nik:

It’s because there's no standard to measure upon. It's not like this is the answer to empathy, now everyone must try to do this. Human beings are so complicated, children are far more intelligent than people give them credit for, in my opinion. And everyone has their own background. Everyone has their own journey. And so empathy might be a foreign concept to one child at a particular age, but to another it could come perfectly naturally. So it's about really investing in the individual child and saying, Okay, what are your thoughts on this? And trying to figure that out, and then having maybe separate objectives for each child, based on what you've noticed about them, based on what their parents have spoken about and based on your agreed goals and so it's a lot more work. It's a lot more work and you really, really have to care about teaching and education in terms of the holistic child. There's no shortcut, you can't teach a skill like mindfulness or skills like finding your purpose or things like that if you don't really care about the child. You really have to invest. So I think there is more work in that aspect. And one of the reasons why I thought to create a framework is to try and lessen that workload a little bit for schools, so it’s not so scary for schools. Because we want to invest in developing the child from a broad perspective. So I think it just takes more work and it takes a very committed and motivated teacher to do this.

Helen:

Thank you, Nik. I'm interested in a piece of terminology that you used when you were talking about this, you used the expression ‘21st century skills’. And you've mentioned some of them, bringing maths into the classroom in a real world perspective, as working out your own finances, which is extremely important, obviously. And then you mentioned things like empathy and resilience, and obviously these life skills, these very important skills that children need, that we all need growing up. I'm just curious as to why these are termed 21st century skills. I mean, aren't these skills that we should always have had? Or is it because in the 20th century, we lost them and now we need to reinstate them again? I'm just curious as to this expression. I wonder if you could say more about that.

Nik:

Yeah. So it started off with skills like financial literacy, media literacy, so understanding bias in the news and everything that’s relevant in the 21st century. And very technical things like problem solving, innovation, design thinking, and these are things that have come to prominence in the 21st century. But then looking further, looking beyond those, we found that things like things have been around for ages, things like empathy, like creativity and all those kinds of things, they lead into it, there is a perfect connection with them. So we don't feel like they should be ignored. We just focus on the very, almost hard skills we want to mix them all together. And also we wanted to make it work for now. So when we're talking about some of these skills, we try to apply them to what's happening now, which is the 21st century, so it was definitely difficult thinking of a collective term. We thought of life skills, values and all these kinds of things. But because we started off thinking of quite concrete skills that are relevant today, we thought the easiest thing to do is to put it together and then have them intermingle so that they could be relevant today.

Helen:

Yeah. I'd like to go back to something you said at the very beginning when you started talking about your journey from London and from primary school and then moving into this new area. And what you said was that you'd found your niche or you found your passion. I wonder if you could go back to that part where you realised that you had found your passion, and let us know what did it feel like? What was it like? How did you know you'd found your passion? Can you explain a little bit more about that?

Nik:

Sure. That's a great question. I actually think about this at times. I guess when I was teaching certain classes, I was like, “Okay, this is my objective, I’ve got to get there.” And I would teach it. And I would be very aware of time and all those areas and structure and then if we had an extra 20 minutes, I was like, “Okay, let's read a story and let's talk about the story.” I would find myself losing track of time, along with the students. And then I would say, “Oh, that was fun. Let's do something similar in the morning, that's when we have some time. “ So I started to talk about different things, started talking about philosophies, started talking about, even things like Plato's Republic with six and seven year olds, and just turning really difficult, complex concepts into child-friendly, almost conversations. And I found that I really enjoyed it. I was losing track of time, I was going home, I was researching more, I was thinking how else can I bring this in? And I was speaking very passionately about this. And I thought, “Okay, that's what I can do. I can find my little tiny pockets in the day and I can teach this.” And then I started to get a lot of good feedback from parents saying, “Oh, I had a great conversation with my child over dinner about whether the Matrix could happen and talking about simulations and things. My child never spoke to me at dinner about school and now we're having these great conversations.” And I’m thinking, “Wow, okay, so you'd like more of these?” And it's like, “Yeah, we want to hear more about what our child is doing in school.” So I found personally, I lost track of time, I was very enthusiastic about it. And it never got old. it never got boring and I was always thinking, I need to improve, I need to learn more, what more can I do? So that was the one thing and on the other hand, I started to get recognition for teaching in this kind of way. So that gave me more confidence to think, “Okay, that people like this.” And it was a very small school in a very small town but it was a great way to receive feedback. And so I think those two things combined made me feel like wow. And then I guess in my personal time, I do read a lot on these topics. I have a very strong interest in them, so I think those three things came together and I thought, wow, and then I realised that teachers were saying, “Can you teach me how to teach that lesson? Or can you teach me how to do this?” And I was thinking, maybe you can find out from other people, but they were coming to me so I thought, okay, they trust me to help them teach certain concepts. So then I thought, okay, this maybe is my niche then, moving forward.

Helen:

It sounds, then, like you received a lot of positive feedback from yourself and from your students, your pupils and also from teachers and parents. I'm just wondering whether there was any backlash on any of this, perhaps from authorities or from elsewhere because you, I'm assuming then you weren't teaching directly to the curriculum and heading towards the grades and the exams? This is the sense that I'm getting from you. So was there any backlash that you were getting from other areas?

Nik:

No, not really, because I respected the school policy and the school vision. So we always did what we had to do. It's just in these pockets of time that we would have, instead of just saying, “Right everyone, let's draw, let’s colour”, I wasn't filling time with any of those kinds of activities. I was having conversations and things like that. We were inspected, so we have to maintain all of these things.

Helen:

And I'm just wondering, any teachers listening to this might be thinking, “What do you mean ‘pockets of time’? We don't have time for anything!” How did you find these pockets of time in such a tight curriculum?

Nik:

Well, with the international schools there's more freedom than the public schools. So you would have lots of events, like for example, our UNICEF campaign. We were able to go off timetable for a couple of days and again, I was able to link in all these skills with the project with UNICEF. School days are a bit longer in Spain here, so we'll finish at 4. My old school finished at 4.30, but then also we have subjects like PSHE, which is in the national curriculum, and there is freedom within that topic. So during those lessons, I would try to talk more about skills and the British National Curriculum is adding more of these things into the PSHE curriculum.

Helen:

What is PSHE?

Nik:

Personal Social Education. It's normally taught for about an hour a week and they talk about things like relationships. It’s changed recently in 2020, but they talk about relationships and things like that so it's a great way to use this framework. And interestingly, when I spoke to some teachers in the UK and abroad, I was saying, “I have this idea, do you think you'll have time to teach this? When would you teach this?” And they were saying, “Well, we'll do it in circle time. We'll do it in PSHE and we'll do it towards the end of the school year when things are a bit more relaxed, when all the exams are over and we're always looking for fun projects and things like that to do.” So I thought, “Okay, great. So there is a time, even in the public schools in the UK to teach this.”

Maribel:

Oh wow, great. From your perspective, what's wrong with the school system?

Nik:

From my perspective? Oh well!

Maribel:

That looked like everything!?

Nik:

No, no, I think there are some really good things but I became a teacher because I saw great things. My perspective now is, Why are so many teachers leaving the profession? It’s the question I would ask. Why are so many great teachers leaving? I was very fortunate to be trained by unbelievable teachers when I started off in London and I still call them now to say, “Listen, I’m struggling, can you help me?” And now when I speak to them, they've all left the profession. So what is happening, that we're losing these, in my opinion, great, great teachers? Why is there a disconnect between either the curriculum, school policy to very inspirational, very talented, teachers and leaders? And most people are saying that there's too much pressure, it's gone away from your responsibility to try and inspire and encourage and develop. It's gone more to almost office based, filling out paperwork and things like that. And the stress that's involved is it's such a difficult job. I started off in an inner city school, very, very difficult. You deal with many, many things all at once. And you need support, and I'm very fortunate that when I was going through that the first time around, I had amazing leaders who would just take me out for a coffee sometimes when it got too much and that connection, that time and support. And I'm wondering, is there time for support like that? Is the curriculum, not just the curriculum but the school system, allowing for the development for teachers for them to grow and evolve and change? Or is there a strict pressure to follow principles? Because I understand each school will have their policy and their vision and you need to fulfil that if you sign up for its work in a particular school. And I respect that a lot. But then there is that human element and for me, it's like when you start to lose these experienced, inspirational teachers, it's the students that will suffer ultimately, I think. It's the students that will suffer. So I think that for me is my big question. And I'm still speaking to people and trying to figure out what can be done about that.

Maribel:

Well, from what I hear, I can only imagine because I don't think I would ever want to become a primary teacher, it's quite stressful. When we first spoke, I mentioned that my son has ADHD, and that he, at the beginning, he struggled to stay put and to follow what the teacher was saying, because this frontal teacher-led classroom and I was intrigued by something you said. You said, your son is probably, maybe you can remind me what were the exact words, like my son with ADHD was probably more advanced than us. Do you remember that?

Nik:

Oh, I think you mentioned that he preferred to learn through doing or through projects and things like that.

Maribel:

Yes, exactly.

Nik:

And I said, Well, schools are trying to move towards that now.

Maribel:

Why is that better? Do you think that's better? And if yes, why?

Nik:

Yeah, I think that students should really be the protagonists of each lesson. And I think if you have this ‘Sage on the Stage’ mentality of the teacher is at the front, is completely dominating the conversation and has like this ultimate control and the students are sat there listening, I think that we're missing out on great conversations between the students, great learning opportunities for the students. And I think that learning through doing is so important and I think that when you limit the amount of collaboration involved in a class between the students, I think you miss out on a lot, you miss out on these aha moments. And when a child discovers on their own like, “Oh!” They're more likely to remember that. whereas if they’re told this is it because of this, they’re like, “Okay, great. I'll just write that down.” But it's that “Oh!” And we have this as adults, right? When we stumble across the answer or we work at it, it’s like “Oh, okay!” It's very hard to forget those things because you've gone through a journey, you’ve shown this growth mindset to get there. And as teachers we really need to facilitate those moments, because it leads to lasting learning and also its gives confidence to students to say, “Well, the next time I have something tricky, I know I can do it. It might take me a bit longer and I might have to ask for help, but I know I can get there, so I will continue to work at it.” Whereas if it's just, “Do it this way, because it's like this every time”, where's the incentive for a child to take on a difficult problem? So I think having more of a dynamic personality, to want to collaborate, to want to physically solve problems, it doesn’t have to always be abstract, it can be concrete. I think that those things are coming more and more into interplay in education. So in that sense, your son was probably more advanced because maybe he would be better off learning in that environment. And I think we are moving towards that.

Maribel:

And you have created, tell us a little bit more about your project, you have created a curriculum. What is the vision and where would you like to see that in a few years?

Nik:

Yes. So essentially I would love it to be just a hub for people to come on and share ideas and resources and experiences about teaching these skills to students. So originally we want to start with primary aged children and getting them to understand the roots of certain topics and to discuss them and to figure out what it means to them. So the way I see it is if you think of a tree I would say like the primary age would be the roots and the trunk and then the secondary would be the branches and then the adults would put on the leaves. So that's the journey that they will go on with a particular skill in their lives. And to the extent that they’ll one day have a forest of skills that intertwine. So, we want to start with a project that lasts through people's lifetimes. So the hub as of now, we're starting off with primary age children or elementary aged children. So what would happen is teachers or schools would go on and would download the resources, the research that we have on certain skills, and then they could have either full lesson plans that they could use, or they could use the ideas to create their own version of the lessons, as well as teacher training. So if a teacher feels like “Oh, I don't know where to begin,” they would go on, we’d arrange a session online, and we’d talk about how we would use this lesson in a particular class. And essentially it's about sharing. And then moving on, we'd love parents to contribute as well to the hub. So that's the vision for now. But I think there's lots of potential. I've had interest from some businesses that said, “Oh, this will be really good for my employees to start this conversation with them.” And I'm thinking, of course one day, but I want to be quite methodical with this and I want to get it right in primary, which is my area of expertise. It’s where I started. So essentially, I want to start with this primary curriculum and then move on.

Maribel:

Beautiful. That sounds like an amazing project,

Nik:

It's very difficult. It's very time-consuming and I'm very fortunate I've managed to find two or three people that really resonate with this project and we're working together and it's a long process. But a bit like when I said I lost track of time when I was teaching, I almost lose track of time when I'm discussing it, planning for it, editing it, it's all linked to that thing. So, for me, I really enjoy it. It's a real passion of mine.

Helen:

Sounds wonderful, Nik. I love that expression that you used earlier, describing an old school teacher of being a ‘Sage on the Stage’: “Look at me and listen to me because I have all the answers.” And I agree, learning is done together, it's like you provide the scaffolding to enable the learning and then the scaffolding falls away as the building is standing on its own two feet.

Nik:

And I didn't learn that way. I didn’t feel like I did very well at school.

Helen:

I don’t think any of us did! I can certainly sympathise with you there.

Nik:

So I think a lot of inspiration does come from my school experience as well in primary, just feeling completely disillusioned with everything and just trying to get through. It's such a shame because I'm quite sociable, I want to learn with others. It was very much we were in fear essentially of the strict teacher and I felt like great administrators did really well in that system, the students that were really well organised, that had all their pencils in order and that would come and they'd love writing all day. There was a large percentage of probably 10 or 11 years old, we were so active, we wanted to learn in a different way and we just couldn't. We just couldn't do that back then. So I became disillusioned with the project. So I think that also ties into a lot of what I'm trying to do here. I'm looking for that little Nik. I sometimes say, “Who is that little Nik that's just sitting there a bit mute, a bit lost, looking at his time when he can play football at lunchtime?” And how can I engage that Nik? It's almost like that's how it started for me.

Helen:

So what challenges or obstacles have you faced, or do you feel that are still ahead of you?

Nik:

I’ve had many challenges. One thing is leaving a stable job. It's tricky to pursue something like this. I've been really fortunate that my family have a lot of faith in me and are very, very supportive. And even when I lose faith, because you do lose faith sometimes and I feel like “Oh my God, this is not working. What have I done? I've said goodbye to a good salary” and they’re like, “No, just trust the process. Don't worry, it's not always going to be going well and up and up and up, you have those bad moments and those moments of doubt.” So I think one of the challenges is the inner critic. I’m human. I go through those emotions and I've read and I've reached out to people to say, “How can I manage those emotions better? Because I really believe in this project, I know it can succeed, I know it will change and it will develop.” But I'm ready for that. So I’m really trying to essentially become a witness to my thoughts. That’s helped me to overcome the challenge of the inner critic. So don't ignore that Nik that’s saying, “What have you done? This is going to take ages. That's not good enough. You should be here by now. Other businesses do this.” So becoming a witness for me is to listen, don’t try to shut that Nik out. Just listen, and say, “Okay, what have you got for me?” And then the more you listen, the more you think, “That's okay. That's not really helpful.” And then I found the voice slows down because it's not getting that much of a reaction. And I just listen and then I speak to someone. But actually, there was something that really changed my perspective. I saw something on Netflix, I think it was a talk by Brené Brown, and she mentioned this concept of an arena. And she was like, you can either be a spectator or you could be playing. And if you want to play, and I'm paraphrasing and saying it how I took it, you've got to risk losing. You've got to risk getting injured, you've got to risk getting all the scrapes and the boos from the crowd and the cheers from the crowd. You’ve got to put up with that because that’s part of playing, almost like the gladiator in there. It’s dangerous, it's not pretty. Or you can be a spectator whereby you can be pretty comfortable and you do get the privilege, well I don’t know if it's a privilege but you do get the opportunity to criticise, I would have done that if I was that player, or I would do this or that didn’t work out. You get to be that person if you want to. And I find like, when I look at myself in the mirror, what do I want to be? Because you can be both. You can also support as a spectator, of course, but what do I want to be? And I think, “Well, I want to play.” I love sports. I want to play. I'm used to losing in sports. And sometimes we will all lose in different areas. But we also win as well. And we have small wins and we have big wins. And that’s the reward. So when I get those negative thoughts, I say to myself, “Well, that’s the spectator.” And they come. You can’t do anything about them. You almost need the spectator because they might spur you on to play better. So I listen to those thoughts but I always say, “I would rather be in the arena. I would rather be playing.” And I’ve mentioned that to a few of my friends who are thinking about career changes and things like that and I get nervous saying these things because I think, What are you talking about, Nik? Where have you read that now? But I risked it and I said it to a few people and they were really, “Yeah, that's true.” And then I just mentioned what Seneca said. He said people think the greatest commodity is money and gold or whatever, but it’s time. You can lose money but you can also earn it back. But you can’t earn back time. Once you’ve lost it, you’ve lost it. So when you start thinking of: time is our greatest commodity, I want to play and I accept that I will lose but I will strive to win because it's possible. And I've won before in my life and I have to acknowledge my previous wins. And so small things like this really helped me get over the challenges because people say “Oh, I’m really interested” and they go away. Or some people say, “Well, I doubt this and I doubt this will work and this is not a viable business.” And of course you hear all those things, but then you also hear, “Wow, that's really inspirational. I'd love to be a part of this. I think you have something there.” So it's just balancing that, really.

Helen:

That's wonderful advice, I think, for anybody pursuing an audacious goal. Thank you so much for that, Nik.

Nik:

That was Brené Brown, it’s not me. I can’t take the credit for that.

Maribel:

Oh, but I loved how you explained that metaphor. It's very inspiring.

Nik:

It's really helped me a lot.

Maribel:

So I’m going to ask you our last question, Nik, and it's connected with the name of our podcast, AudaciousNess. The audacious part relates to having the audacity to come up with the idea, leaving my well-paid job and then I'm so inspired by this and I'm going to go ahead with this project. And the word ‘ness’ we found out that describes a spit of land, it’s an old old word in the English language, a spit of land which juts out into the sea. So for us, it means the solid grounding that you have, amidst all the things that are happening in the pursuit of your dream, of your project. So while you are pursuing your goal, where do you get the solid grounding to continue while everything else is in motion? How do you stay grounded in your vision, despite everything life throws at you?

Nik:

That’s a great question. The first thing that comes to mind is, as I mentioned before, my family, in particular my wife, is very, very supportive. And I think you need that sometimes when things are really not going according to plan or things are taking longer than expected. So I would definitely say my family first. But I also have friends that are not afraid to question me and they're not afraid to hurt my feelings about an idea or about something. And at first I used to feel like oh, well I don't want to talk to them about this because they'll just be negative. But as I've matured I like to think I seek their thoughts first. Because I'm thinking I need reality checks in order to stay grounded with my vision, because visions can be huge and when you’re alone with your thoughts, you can be a bit of a dreamer. But I like having people in my life that will say, “I don't think that will work and here's why.” And so it may not feel at the time, you do feel a bit like, “Ah, why did they say that?” But then at the time you think, well no, I need this because it will take me back to the drawing board and I think when things are going difficult around you and you need some sort of grounding, you can use things like philosophy or family or religion or whatever it is that grounds you. There are many things I use in order to help that. But I feel like the people around me, that's the key for me and you do have to attract these people and you almost have to believe in them as well. It has to be reciprocated, you have to also give them those doubts, if they come to you with something. And this kind of collaboration with your friends and family on supporting each other, whatever it is that people are going through, does provide a grounding and I think some people forget that, that they have access to friends and family that can actually offer that. I think people look for it in technical terms or business things or coaches. I'm sure they all would work but I think I would always begin with that. And I think when times get really bad I do this thing of just do one thing that pushes the project. One small thing, if it's an email, if it's appear on a podcast, if it’s ask for help. If you just do one thing every single day, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve in a month. So I always take a step back and think, “Okay, I’ll speak to my family, they’ll keep the faith alive.” Okay, so now I have that, what do I do? I’m going to do one small thing just to enhance. And then it becomes a habit and then you're all of a sudden quite productive, you’re actually quite productive without trying to be or without reading a book on it. You just actually become it. So those are the two things. I hope that made sense, but those are the two things that I use.

Maribel:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for this beautiful conversation and your inspiring words. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you, Nik.

Nik:

Well thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Helen:

Thank you, Nik.

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About the Podcast

AudaciousNess
A solid grounding on which to practice your audacity.
AudaciousNess showcases individuals who have set themselves bold, audacious goals and have worked to achieve them. Our purpose is to inspire people to act with the courage to create a positive impact in the world.

Through interviewing 'regular people' about their audacious goals, we highlight the fact that role models are everywhere. Each and every one of us can have an impact in some way. Our goal is to enable a courageous community that honours their genius and lives their calling.

The name 'AudaciousNess' has two components: audacious, meaning 'bold', and ness, meaning 'a strip of land projecting into a body of water'. We believe having a solid grounding on which to practice your audacity is crucial, or, in the words of the great philosopher king Marcus Aurelius (Meditations, 4.49):

"Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it."

About your hosts

Maribel Ortega

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I help women find their worth and be confident so that they can use their voice, speak up, take new opportunities and ultimately lead fulfilled lives.

Helen Strong

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I run an eco-friendly, vegan B&B in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. This is just one of the many audacious goals I've pursued in my lifetime.