Twice a year we award worthy Australians with Medals. I get excited on both Australia Day and the Queens Birthday weekend in anticipation of reading the lists. As someone who has spent so much time recording stories and interviewing people it will not be any shock to you that it is the stories behind the awards that I like the most.
This year we have a cracker. The wonderful Dick Smith was awarded the country’s top honour and his is a lovely story, that should resonate with an entire generation.
Mr Smith is an achiever. The Americans would probably call him a winner. From humble beginnings he toiled to eventual business success and now seems to spend his time giving his money to people who need it more than he does.
The part of his story that should have ears burning everywhere, is his schooling. Marked 45th of 47 students in his year, he went through the apprenticeship route rather than to University. Many a young person is led to believe that if you haven’t made your mark academically by 12 or 13 you are up against it in the success stakes.
Dick Smith would have everyone know that he was not good at school but pretty good at business, leadership, learning and (in my opinion) being a good bloke. Personally I find it interesting that school failed to provide him the opportunity to shine. Though it doesn’t surprise me. The point though is that he didn’t let a thing like academics get in the way of success.
I am not teacher bashing either, some of my favourite people are teachers so this is not about teaching standards or anything like that. It is important for young people to know that the bumps and scuffs that almost inevitably occur during a young persons schooling are not an excuse to give up. In fact they should be providing the motivation to dig a little deeper and work a little harder. Dick Smith’s story shows there is more than one way to skin a cat. We need to be creative in the way we look at success, the way we approach hurdles and the methods we use to shine the light on the big world. Thank you Dick.