“You’ll never amount to much”

“You’ll never amount to much” – ever heard that message in your life?

You might have heard a version of it from a school teacher or careers counsellor who suggested you lower your expectations.

You may even have picked up a hint of it from your friends or family – don’t expect too much, don’t get your hopes up, better to be “realistic”.

Well, screw that!

Watch this video clip with me talking about this damaging message,
how I proved them wrong in my own life, and how you can too.


So what’s your dream?

What do you dream of? What could you be capable of if you had expert guidance, a plan to follow, and all the support you could ever need?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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  • Malgorzata Piatkowska

    Luckily, I learned not to believe those words early enough. At the age of 18, I heard from one of my teachers that I would’t get my leaving certificate, because I don’t take my education seriously. Few months later not only I passed, but also obtained a maximum score from every single exam and got to an elite university. From there on I’ve always assumed that those that estimate my future are not to be trusted. They possess no power of divination, they know almost nothing about me – why should they know what future lays ahead of me? Screw them.

  • johnsw

    Excellent, Malgorzata – and well done you!

  • Caroline

    Great video – far too many of these people out there taking up my time and energy at the moment – no more! Inspiring stuff – thanks John!

  • Yes, never listen to the nay-sayers. My A-level history teacher told my mother that I wouldn’t get any A levels or be capable of doing a degree. I did fail most of my A levels first time around (I was already doing degree-level work for my A levels) but when I got my MA I knew whose nose I most wanted to wave it under most! I use “you’ll never do it” as a challenge rather than a put down. I think “I’ll show you!” – it’s quite motivating.

  • What’s my dream? To be an artist full-time, not squeezing it around other work. To get better and better at what I do and make more and more people happy with the stuff they buy from me. To do lots of interesting and challenging projects: portraits, cartoons, murals, illustrations, videos, talks, workshops, things I don’t even know are possible yet. I relate to what you say John about work and life being the same thing – I dream of a seamless satisfying enriching happy creative life.

  • johnsw

    Cheers Caroline

  • johnsw

    Excellent, Deborah!

  • johnsw

    Nice. And you’re already making smart moves in the Academy

  • Alice Hadridge

    A bit late but just catching up after a week away. What is my dream? Simply to find something I enjoy doing, away from the corporate politics and bureaucracy and ideally working from home/online.
    too many times over my life/career, I have listened to others and subsequently found myself after 25 years in one career feeling very frustrated and unfulfilled, despite a very good salary and reaching fairly high up the organisational hierarchy. Despite a switch to interim working which may pay well but still leaves me dreaming of finding a way of earning a living that I am not deliriously happy to stop doing at 5pm on a Friday or dreading starting again at 9am on a Monday. The journey has started but I am still working on what that ‘something’ is….. the difference now from 25 years ago is that this time I am going with what I feel is right and not what others are telling me.

  • johnsw

    Sounds good, Alice

  • Stacey

    This post resonates with me a lot. A couple of years ago, I came back from living abroad and there were some political changes and cuts so I struggled to get work – a week here, a day there, random weird jobs and then a couple of weeks of nothing. I sold some shares at a loss and pretended I was on a fitness thing to explain why I was walking into town but I couldn’t afford the bus. I borrowed a smidgen from the parents (ouch, I’d moved cities at 18 so OUCH). Eventually even my mum said apply for the dole (unheard of in our family). I started panicking – before I’d gone abroad, my father had yelled “don’t blame me if you wake up at 50 with nothing” and I am the black sheep of the family in some respects. One aunt who is in banking came and saw me after I got my 500th rejection -“how old are you now? If you don’t get something now, it’s all over. ALL OVER RED ROVER< You're finished."

    Another friend had an "intervention" with me since he is now an almost lawyer and apparently respectable and professional now – and said I need to see a shrink as I hadn't "stuck with anything" and must have a something wrong with me. Due to this pressure, I panicked and wasted hundreds or more on credit for some sort of life/career coach as well that yelled at me about not being successful due to my own thoughts, this was a top name international brand.

    My brother yelled at me at dinner in a posh restaurant about what a loser I am and told all the relatives at a family gathering that I am a just a receptionist and get funded overseas trips from our parents etc. (absolutely not). I told a couple of people, I wanted my own business and had been prospecting clients- one friend said he started his at 27 and as I was older than that it was too late for me, another said there were no new ideas and another started screaming at me how stupid I could be and I hadn't the slightest clue of what I was talking about and accept I just need to settle in a job(although I had grown up in the family business, although so had she so maybe her experience was negative).

    Luckily, a pushy friend recommended a careers psychologist his friend had seen, a properly qualified one, no bs, with a proper office in town. It cost but she calmed me down and said contract work is very normal in the modern economy and I shouldn't compare myself so much to those with different goals. After doing the Myers Brigg test I realised I am normal, just ENFP not crazy needing to be fixed.I've always worked as a contractor as just to get a go in the industry I work in you have to, and also I hate the idea of having a permanent job. But I guess some friends might be worried I'll become one of those people who'll suddenly start claiming welfare as they're too spiritual or snobbish or artistic to work. Since I've discovered Screw Work Let's Play and the 30Day challenge and other similar things, I realised I did it all wrong years ago – quitting jobs, trying out my thing but not knowing how to make money from it, then panicking and needing money so I'd have to get another job quick. Now, I am taking my time to see my work as my own business where possible and have created my own job at work, sort of and am working on getting money for side projects.

    I'm trying to make not wanting a permanent settled job work for me instead of seeing it as some kind of character flaw. I've had a contract that keeps getting extended for a couple of years now because of my ability to adapt and adjust to the constant changes, I've been able to capitalise on that and get great experience unlike the ones who've been there 20 years, on the same level and now could be made redundant and aren't used to using their initiative.