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Reflections of a UK Scholar, by Mollie Pearse

We will spend an average of 90,000 hours at work or 1/3rd of our life time, according to Business Insider; that’s 1/3rd of our life time away from our loved ones, our children, our families.

Yet, if you were to commute to any number of business hotspots across London, the look on the faces of 99% of people would suggest that they are not engaging in an activity that deserves a single day of their lives, let alone one third of their entire life. There is a higher probability of winning the lottery than inspiring a smile on the jubilee line on a Monday morning! How can we possibly justify spending so much time at work, if we are not doing something that inspires, with people who inspire us? I think the answer lies in the lack passion that so many people have for what they do. The fact that a purpose is merely a hypothetical concept, out of reach. We are players in a game for which we do not know the rules.

Earlier this year I became a scholar on The Marketing Academy – a leadership development programme with a difference. The scholarship endeavors to develop leaders of the future by going beyond just professional development. Instead the programme comprises a powerful mixture of professional, personal and people development, whilst challenging everyone to get closer to their purpose. An immersive experience that not only guides you towards becoming an exceptional marketer, it also helps you to uncover your greatest powers as a human being, whilst connecting you to a purpose that will likely change your entire outlook. 

Now, I would consider myself a passionate individual, one who makes the most of each day and someone who seeks out challenges that will facilitate the growth of myself and those around me. I left a job in banking to work in an environment that allowed me to show up as my authentic self, one that I felt would allow me to get closer to what I see as my purpose. Yet, the last 9 months have thrown several of my previous preconceptions up in the air whilst re-prioritising lessons which I had certainly started to take for granted. Here is a little bit of what I have learned/re-learned.

Vulnerability is power.

Within moments of being at the first bootcamp I was reminded of the sheer, earth moving power of vulnerability. For a long time, I have held a fear of not making the most out of every day, which has led me to live life at an exhausting pace and leaving little (if any) time for reflection, acceptance or evaluation. A game changing part of our first bootcamp was The Living Leader programme with an incredible facilitator, Tash. Nothing revolutionary in terms of the content, it was simply the space to stop, listen to eachother and to reflect, that bought the power. A simple task of introducing ourselves led to the most emotionally enlightening day of my life! The other two groups had flown through their introductions and were well into the course content by the first break…we were still sharing our intros at 4pm. The vulnerability that everyone showed during that day was humbling and the intensity of listening that it in evoked was inspiring. The simple act of listening ignited in me an appreciation for the power of vulnerability. It dawned on me that I did not always need to be ‘the strong one’, or the one that sorted everything out, but I also realized that unless I showed some vulnerability then this perception would not change.

Life is a team sport.

I have and continue to lead a life that is bursting with sport and its many influences – I love the ability to test the physiology of the human body against feats of endurance, I love the psychology of the mind in the toughest moments, I love the spiritual enlightenment one can obtain from moving meditation and I love the harmonized power you can achieve from a highly functioning team. Yet, a lesson that this journey has made me reprioritse is that life, in its entirety, is a team sport.

A great team will be made up of individuals who appreciate and acknowledge each other’s strengths. There will be healthy competition, but in the pursuit of each team member wanting to make one another excel. There is no complacency, only focus. A shared sense of purpose and a common belief that as a team they can not only obtain the goal but do so goal with grace and passion.

Your team may not line up with you day to day, you may not take to the same arena, at the same time, but a true team will be there with you no matter what. The Marketing Academy has given me a clearer focus on the various teams in my life; at work, at home, during my triathlon training. Knowing who is on the field with you and who is on the bench is essential for happiness and success.

The impossible is possible

The Marketing Academy gives so much; world class coaches, top exec mentors, a team of bad-ass class mates, but the greatest gift it gives is space. Space to think and to challenge yourself on ‘why’. The last 9 months have affirmed to me that my ‘why’ in life is to make those around me believe that the impossible is possible. Ironically, somewhere in that calm space, I have realised that the unrelenting energy I have is perhaps not to enable me to run at life at 100mph, but something that I can use to share with and inspire others. Whatever the impossible is, it will start with a focus, it will require a creative plan and a strong team, but it is always there for the taking.

As my time as a scholar draws to a close, I look fondly on the experience of the last 9 months – it has been an incredible journey of self-discovery. I am sad that it is set to end, but I am bursting with excitement for what comes next. George Bernard Shaw famously said: “Life is no candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations”. Sherilyn has created the Marketing Academy, which is nothing short of an incredible torch relay: with each cohort of scholars and fellows comes a new team to carry the torch, at the end of their tenure passing it on to the next. We need more Marketing Academy magic in our day to day, and with the network that is being created, it is only a matter of time before these feelings are felt far and wide.

If we are to spend a 1/3rd of our lives at work how will you ensure your career is fueled with passion and purpose? Could you get up one hour earlier to live one hour more?


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The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

The Fellowship – Equips CMOs and Marketing Directors with the tools, knowledge and insight to make the move onto Boards and into General Management / MD / CEO roles.

12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience