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4 Things Every Child Needs to Succeed

Floyd Woodrow MBE DCM offers four simple steps to help students dream big about their future careers, and obtain those goals...

  • 4 Things Every Child Needs to Succeed

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The million-dollar question.

I am often told that children do not know what they want to be. However, that is not my experience in working with thousands of children.

The problem is we don’t always give children the chance to dream or when they do, listen to them with an open mind.

Children are the most creative, imaginative and inquisitive individuals, who look to adults to inspire and educate them.

Therefore, we need to tap into these passions and skills in order to help them work out what it is they want to become, make them aware of the different jobs available, and show them the steps they need to take in order to succeed.

It’s also about giving them the confidence – regardless of their background, community or parental influence – and the belief that they can achieve those goals.

Given the right support, encouragement and determination, I believe that there is no difference in potential between the most successful people in the world and the children that we teach.

So how can we help our future generation to aim high and navigate their way to making their dreams become a reality?

I believe the key is four simple steps…

Super North-Star

Before you do anything, the first step is helping a child figure out their ultimate dream, or what I call, their Super North Star.

Fundamentally, children will never give their undivided attention and devotion to learning unless they can clearly see the connection between what they’re learning and how it relates to their wider purpose in life.

Daydreaming – something I was always told off for – plays a key part in this as it in fact helps nurture creativity and personal development.

Therefore, encourage children to uncover these dreams and ask them questions such as: “What do you dream of being and doing in life?”, “What inspires you”, and “What experiences would you like to have in life?”

Without judgement or limitations, children will feel comfortable opening up and talking about their goals; it’s not always easy revealing this straight away, so providing them with a safe and supportive environment is vital in helping them unlock these passions, and understanding and believing that they can achieve them when they put their mind to it.

Once this has been established, children will always have this end goal in mind, no matter what obstacles are thrown their way.


Along our chosen path, we will meet various people who inspire, influence and shape us. Therefore, as a second step we need to help children understand the importance of values, ethics and principles, and the part they play in their journey.

You might not think that children are capable of understanding values, however, in my experience, they are a lot more emotionally intelligent than we sometimes give them credit for.

When working with children even as young as four and five, I simply ask them “what are values?” You might think – as many teachers do – that they won’t understand what I mean, but often the responses I get are incredible: “being nice to people”, “being brave” and “being respectful and kind”.

It’s important to let children know the influence that values have on behaviours and choices, therefore our ethos needs to encapsulate this in order to ensure that along the way, their journey won’t be negatively impacted.

For example, being selfish, greedy, jealous or hateful, will only ever limit their success. Encouraging them to understand that values such as being a team player, staying true to your word, being dedicated, and remaining loyal will always positively influence the steps they take towards their end goal.


The next part is to help them create their plan of action. Having a strategy is crucial in making sure the decisions we make, the steps we take and the milestones we put in place, will help lead them to their end goal.

Children must be able to recognise that while having an end goal is important, in order to push forward, they need to use their intellect, logic and patience and understand that things won’t happen overnight.

They need to play the long game, and ensure that their short, medium- and long-term goals have been thoroughly thought out.

It’s about being adaptable and flexible; sometimes you will need to change direction or tactic and have a back-up plan for when things don’t always turn out the way you originally planned.

Ask children things like: “What will you need to achieve before you can reach your final destination?”, “Are there specific dates you need to achieve things by?”, “What obstacles might you face?” and “How will you adapt your plans to overcome them?”


With your goals heard, values established and strategy in place, it’s time to help children find the strength and courage to put their plans into action. It’s time to release their fighting spirit!

We all have an inner warrior; the desire and ability to fight for what we believe and what we want. It is how we turn our dreams from being just that – dreams – into realities.

And it’s not just about physical strength. It’s about allowing children to see that strength of character, determination, bravery and resilience – all key to 21st-century jobs and society – are crucial skills for success.

It’s about learning that practising and never giving up will only ever result in positive outcomes.

Encouraging children to try, and try again, despite set backs and failures, will help them to see that sometimes all it takes is seeing things from a different perspective, working with people who hold different strengths and weaknesses, or thinking outside the box.

And again, this is where their values and steps will play an integral part in making sure that they reach their Super North Star. It’s about giving them the belief and encouraging that warrior spirit to never give up on their dreams.

Following these steps will mean children are constantly supported, inspired and empowered to achieve great things.

There will inevitably be bumps along the way, but if we can ignite that fire from a young age and help them to find their purpose and realise their potential, then we can help develop motivated and strong individuals – regardless of their background or provisions – who will succeed in all areas of their lives.

Floyd Woodrow MBE DCM is the founder of Compass for Life.

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