Imperial College lecture - with an add-on!
Updated: May 12
So, today I went to the Imperial College London to give another sustainable tourism guest lecture, and while I was there, something quite special happened. I was in the elevator, and these 2 students come in, and one of them says 'I hate that professor so-and-so - he always bullies me!'.
And you know how you sometimes have those moments when your whole world closes in on you, and you end up having an epiphany?! Well that's what happened to me…
And so I blurted out 'Your bullies can bring out the best in you!!!'
And then he goes, 'Excuse me???'
And I go (*shakier voice this time*), 'Errr, your bullies can bring out the best in you.'
And I continue… 'So here's the thing. And I didn't realise this until now, but it's true - I promise. So in secondary school I had this Geography teacher. She was the bully of all bullies. She told me my name sounded like a dog's name, and she’d always refuse to call me by my name. She used to ask me to come in front of the classroom to point out how inadequate my responses were when I couldn't correctly identify dozens of mountain and river names.
She really brought me down. And then somehow - I think I decided I was going to prove her wrong… And so I went on to study tourism in college, and then studied tourism at university, and then specialised in sustainable tourism for my MSc. And now that I think about it - I think it may have been because I was trying to prove her wrong. And ever since then, I've worked for the biggest brands in the world - travel brands (Hellooo, Geography, we’re good friends now), gave talks at universities and conferences - and I - not once, thought that it might have been because of her. So yes, your bullies can bring out the best in you.'
'And if I think about it, if I were to bump into her right now… I'd probably go and give her a big hug and say thank you. Because I've since learnt that bullies don't have comebacks when you show them kindness. So that's the secret. It's kindness…'.
And then he goes 'So you're doing your MSc here?'
I go 'Oh, nooo. No no. I don't go here. I mean, I am here now. But I'm just here because I need a snack. Do you know where the café is? I mean, come to think of it - the speech might have been because I haven't had breakfast yet… sorry about that - the speech - I just blurted it out'.
And they go 'We'll take you to the café - we're heading there to have breakfast - wanna join us? And you can tell us more about the bully? And about where you work and what you do? We're engineering students - 2nd year.'
….and so we went, and had breakfast, and it was truly lovely. And my epiphany moment really did change everything. I mean, I don't know if I'd have chosen the path I chose if this teacher had not been so hard on me…
So yes, I stand by my newly-found motto:
Your bullies can bring out the best in you. Channel the bad stuff, and turn it into something good.
That's it for tonight 🙂.
Hugs to the world,