about the book - A Few Wise Words

about the book

In order to find success, we first need to find our direction…

Whatever our personal vision of success might be, most of us will naturally want to pursue a career in which we can truly excel and that we can really enjoy doing.

When we are young, the greatest challenge we face is knowing how to find our initial direction. Where do we look? What exactly are we looking for? What talents do we have? When we are older and our journey is already underway, the questions change. How can we become the very best version of ourselves? How can we improve our game and move up? What resources can we tap into to help us?

But if we can learn exactly how and where to look, we may be able to discover that ‘special something’ early – a role or a purpose that we feel genuinely passionate about, can really believe in and absolutely love doing. When we blend in the right values and disciplines, while developing some key personal skills, then success becomes virtually inevitable.

the story behind the book

Whatever your personal vision of success may be, A Few Wise Words has been crafted to be your ultimate travelling companion and guide.

Several years ago, Peter Mukherjee had a dream to create a new book… It had long been a vision of his to prepare a practical guide for young people, young adults and also older adults, on how they can best plan for their personal journey towards success, purpose and happiness in life. He wanted to provide a guide for parents too, that covers the essential role that they should play, to help their children to have the best possible start in life, while they prepare themselves for their futures.

Having read – like many of us – a number of self-help, biographical and inspirational books over the years, Peter wanted to create something rather different from what he had seen and read before. While most books will present either the views of one individual, or perhaps an academic view by one person about several other individuals, he wanted to provide a unique platform that would allow a broad collection of highly successful individuals to speak directly to the reader.

With the help of his mentor and friend, Lord Mervyn Davies, A Few Wise Words soon evolved from a dream into reality. But it would take an extraordinary amount of work and time to put together, first engaging with the book’s many contributors, and then helping them to craft their chapters, to create volume one of this ground-breaking book (the first in a series of three volumes).

A Few Wise Words provides an exceptional collection of anecdotes and stories of real success, that are both inspiring, entertaining, and often moving. With its vast collection of practical, down-to-earth advice, this book delivers an extraordinarily practical guide on how we can all find success, purpose and happiness in our lives, but based entirely on fundamental principles, real values and achievable disciplines.

how to use this book

Who this book is intended to help…

Whether you have acquired A Few Wise Words for yourself, or whether someone has kindly gifted you a copy, this book aims to deliver practical answers to the key questions you may have about where you are now and what you need to do next.

From young person to older adult, every one of us will be at different stages along our own respective journeys. Perhaps you are:

A student still at secondary school…

You may or may not have any idea about where you are heading, what you want to do with your life, or where your talents really lie. You understand that your performance at school is hugely important and will help determine your future direction, whatever that may eventually be. But you also realise that there’s a lot you can learn for yourself, outside of what you would normally expect to pick up from school, that can help you to develop early personal skills and to grow as an individual.

A secondary school leaver…

You could be heading for university or some other form of further education, an apprenticeship even, or you may be going straight out to work. You might have chosen your career direction already, or you might have only an inkling about what you may ultimately like to do. You might, indeed, still have no clue at all just yet! You are always looking for inspiration and new ideas, and know how vitally important the next few years will be for you. Getting the right advice and guidance at an early stage can therefore be enormously helpful for your immediate and future development as a young adult.

A young adult embarking on a new career…

A hugely exciting time, a bit scary perhaps, but a wonderful challenge. It’s a new world, full of possibilities, but there’s a huge amount for you to learn. You know it’s also a time for you to really optimise all of your skills and accomplishments, since the size of the impact you make early in your career can have a profound effect on your future success within it. The only thing you lack right now is experience and knowhow. This is where other people, who already have that experience, can certainly help you.

An older adult in the middle of developing your career…

Whatever career path you have chosen, to get ahead you will need to have an edge. To be noticed, you will also need to shine. If you can cultivate exceptional personal skills – also known as soft skills – and can arm yourself with the right knowledge and capabilities, there is no limit to what you can do. So, if your aspirations are big, you will need to do all you can from now on to create the very best version of you. This will take time and effort, but you know it’s an important investment to make. It will enable you to move ahead positively, with confidence and self-belief, so you can be ready, when the time is right, to move up to the next level.

Parents of young or older children…

We all naturally want to learn more about the role that we can play to help our children to really flourish, how to nurture their development, encourage and empower them, while ensuring they can have the best possible start in life. Having an intuitive understanding of what their journey might look like, and of the choices and the challenges they are likely to face, will enable us to be far more empathetic, helpful and supportive during the important years ahead.

how this book can help you

For young people, young adults and older adults…

So, your journey might have just got started, or it may be well underway already, but whatever stage you are at right now, our contributors will be on hand and ready to support you. With insightful anecdotes and a broad spectrum of advice, they can help you to plan your journey purposefully, and then navigate it confidently, with a clear vision of where you want to go.

Here are some of the main areas covered by our contributors in this book:

When contemplating your future career (perhaps your initial career direction as a student, your first job, your first venture, a move up or even a change in direction), you will learn why our contributors consistently stress the importance of finding a purpose or a mission, a role or an activity that you feel genuinely passionate about, and why this is so fundamental. Most will explain how they found their own passion, and how crucial this was to their success, with practical advice on how you too can explore, both introspectively and externally, what that special something might be for you.

Good values are essential. Being led by them will always help you to stay on track, as Sir Roger Carr describes brilliantly in his chapter. You will also discover which disciplines are the most important ones to embrace and how they can substantially increase your chances of finding success. Our contributors will explore with you how to develop a great attitude and show how this will attract amazing people to you who will want to help you. You will learn why having a good mentor can be helpful too, with advice on how to find the right one(s) for you, how to approach them and when is the right time to do so.

Goals are always very personal and will of course vary, depending on your career and the nature of you as an individual. Our contributors explain how they approached their own goals, while some describe in more detail the science and logic behind truly productive goal-setting.

As you start to make good progress in your journey, you will naturally start thinking about ways to move up. Our contributors will guide you on how to look for the doors to open, that can lead you on to fabulous opportunities. They will also show you how to attract great opportunities, through making yourself more interesting as a person to those that matter around you.
Every journey is beset with challenges, and some of these will be big. You will learn not only how to face them when they occur but also how to plan for their possibility in advance, as expertly covered by Sir Clive Woodward in his chapter. Having moments of self-doubt is completely normal – you will discover how to manage them and even exploit them. You will find out as well why failure can actually be good for you, and how, when processed correctly, it can become a real opportunity to learn and move up.

And finally, while good fortune will doubtless play a significant role in any individual success story, the simple truth is that we are all far more in control over our own futures and our own fortunes than most of us actually realise. Our choices are quite clear-cut; we can either go with the flow and hope for the best, or we can take charge now and apply some hugely positive changes to our lives… We can either leave everything entirely to chance, or we can work hard to stack the odds substantially in our favour.

One of the key principles you will absorb naturally from this book is that you really do have the power to ‘make luck work for you’, and our contributors will show you how. As Declan Kelly fittingly states in his chapter for example, ‘If you cast a line in the water, you might catch a fish. If you cast fifty lines in the water, you are going to catch a fish.’

For parents…

A Few Wise Words can actually help a young person before they are old enough to read and appreciate this book for themselves . . . through helping their parents first.

As a parent, we naturally want to be the very best mum or dad that we can possibly be for our child. Many of our contributors describe how their parents played a crucial role in their journey and eventual success. They explain precisely what their parents did to help them, from childhood through to young adulthood, and often well beyond.

In the separate tinted sections that provide advice specifically for parents, but also within the main body of each chapter, we can find insightful advice on how to help our children to flourish at a young age, how to fire their imagination and curiosity, and why this is crucial. Our contributors explain why developing a curiosity for even the smallest of things can stimulate not only a healthy early desire to absorb knowledge about a particular subject but even a passion for it, and what a wonderful catalyst this can be, as recounted brilliantly by Stephen Fry in his chapter. They discuss the best way for us to engage with our child and how this can have a hugely positive impact on their outlook later, and how introducing the right values early on will help our children to develop their own moral compass and equip them fundamentally for their future.

Advice is also given on how we can instil confidence, self-belief and a healthy attitude at an early stage, and how to literally empower our kids so that they can learn for themselves and take responsibility for their actions. And as Sir Ben Ainslie perfectly describes in his chapter, how this can stimulate initiative and motivation. We will also learn how to present choices to our children to help them explore different possibilities, one of which could even spark a passion for something significant that their future career may eventually revolve around.

The guidance offered to parents can also be helpful for grandparents, aunts, uncles, other caring relatives and, of course, godparents too.

our cover illustrator

The cover illustration for the book was created by our amazing artist Charlotte Posner

Charlotte is a British contemporary artist famous for her ‘Pop Dolls’ illustrations, amongst her other styles, that have created for her an international following. She is in demand both commercially – collaborating with some of the world’s biggest brands – and privately where her work has become highly collectable and is frequently commissioned. Her illustration of the ‘tree of knowledge’ with its suspended words of wisdom was created especially for A Few Wise Words and we are very proud to have her unique artistic brilliance associated with the book.

For more information about Charlotte, please visit her website.