Act your age

Now with an update below.

I’m no extrovert… people who know me will tell you. I can stand up at a conference and speak, I can hold the attention of a board room, I can even manage to make people laugh… and again. But my preference is for conversations in smaller groups. It is just the way that I am.

My son is very like me in this respect. Or so I thought.

At the beginning of the year he got his grades and his drama mark was….well it was ok. Not bad, not good, just pretty average. James is academically strong, he is bright. He is also a good sportsman, not the best, but a good team player and a member of the cricket and rugby squads. He isn’t an actor. Or so I thought.

On the back of his grades, he announced that he was going to join the drama club. He wasn’t happy and he wanted to improve his grade. The only person more shocked than us was his drama teacher. Because he isn’t like that. Or so I thought.

Last night, we sat and watched the end of year performance. It was a Little Red Riding Hood mash-up with comedy, timing, one liners, interplay and significant dialogue. And there was James playing one of the major roles. Maybe not the star this time, but he was on and off stage throughout and with many, many lines.

And he rocked.

He was confident, his timing was impeccable, he was humorous and his delivery was word perfect. This was not my son.

But of course it was, and I was wrong.

Independently he had assessed his strengths and weaknesses, he had the courage to identify where he needed to develop and he had the balls to go and do it. He didn’t say, “its not me” he didn’t say “I’m not an actor”, he didn’t say “I’m not like that”.

He said, “I’m going to show you that I can do anything I set my mind to”.

He didn’t say, “That is just the way that I am”.

Now there’s a thing.

We’re adults, we know everything. They’re kids, they know nothing. Or so I thought.

What if we all set about tackling one thing that we know we’re just not that good at?

Update: So, he recently auditioned and has just landed the role of Bugsy in the full production of Bugsy Malone. I’m proud, but more than that I’m amazed at how much you can achieve when you put your mind to it. Well done that man, we can all learn from children.


  1. Richard Goff · July 12, 2012

    Great post, gtreat story!

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Thanks Richard

  2. Niall Gavin (@niallgavinuk) · July 12, 2012

    Great post; resonated for me, as it turns out my son, who had a rocky first year at 6th Form College, has been quietly posting video blog (vlog) film reviews onto his own YouTube channel for several months now. He now has a large following and people clamouring for him to review upcoming blockbusters! His mum and I now know what he’s been doing in his room online all this time (and are much relieved!). Suddenly (to us), he’s found his voice. Apparently it was there all the time; we just weren’t listening.

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Great link, thank you for sharing.

  3. Sarah Knight · July 12, 2012

    Love this, what an inspiration our children are. A big lesson for us all from J 🙂

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Thanks Sarah!

  4. Great story Neil. I really don’t want to compete, but it’s almost exactly as what happened with my son around the same age (11). We knew Keir was in the school show, but he wouldn’t tell us the part, or sing any songs at home. Only when we went to the show, did we find that he had the part of Fagin in Oliver, and had four solo songs to sing, as well as acting in a mock Cockney/ Yiddish accent throughout. He’s 22 now, and has been performing with his own band for years, as well as promoting other bands via his own label “Struggletown Records”.
    He’s just about to enter the 4th year of his degree at Glasgow Uni, and we can still trace the roots of the confidence and leadership he shows today back to the school show 11 years ago.
    Good luck, and very well done to James. He’ll feel the benefits of this for years to come.

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Good on Keir and thanks for sharing your story too.

  5. James Mayes · July 13, 2012

    Tackling that one thing currently. It involves introspection, it involves courage and I can tell you it ain’t fun or easy. I’m also damn sure I’ll be much improved as an (eventual) result. Great example and useful motivation to continue.

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Good luck to you with it James!

  6. Henry · July 13, 2012

    Good for him.
    And good for you, letting him be precisely as he wishes to be,

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      I do my best….that is all we can do, right?

  7. Henry · July 13, 2012

    (Oh, and wouldn’t it be great if we had the same approach with people who work for us)

    • Neil · July 16, 2012

      Yes, yes and yes…..

  8. Doug Shaw · November 22, 2012

    Love this – fucking great!

  9. Pingback: Best of the HR blogs: 13 great HR blog posts from July 2012 | XpertHR - Employment Intelligence

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