Ed Sheeran is talented, super successful and down-to-earth. His performances are raw and powerful and he seems to ooze boundless natural talent. Well, he is boundlessly talented, but Ed Sheeran has worked seriously hard to be as good as he is. Throughout his childhood and his career, he has adopted some really positive mindsets that have helped him through both good and bad times and we think this is inpsiring for children and young people to hear. In a Desert Island Discs interview with BBC’s Kirsty Young, Ed reflects on an awkward childhood and shares the moments that made him.
Here are 5 life lessons that kids can learn from Ed Sheeran:
- Value individuality. Ed says he wasn’t exactly a contender for coolness as a kid. He had a stammer, a birthmark and “huge, blue NHS specs”. Oh, and his mum dressed him in colourful home-knitted jumpers. All that could be really embarrassing, right? Ed saw standing out as a good thing: “I love being different, I love doing stuff that’s a little bit off kilter”. Feeling different as a child is one of the hardest things and as teachers and parents it’s often difficult to convince a child that hey are OK just as they are. What Ed reminds us of is that we should not only make sure kids feel OK, but give them the tools to really celebrate what makes them different.
- Turn the negatives into positives. There are several moments in Ed’s interview when he turns a positive into a negative. He talks about not fitting in, but then turns that into a really positive thing by finding ways to stand out. He talks about not being into sport and not being able to watch TV at home, but then talks about how learning to play the guitar gave him an identity and something to focus on. Sometimes the things that make us “different” or “weird” are the things that make us truly awesome.
- Work hard. When people talk about Ed Sheeran they often talk about his raw, natural talent. Few know how hard he has worked to get where he is today. He recorded his first album on a 4-track in his bedroom at the age of 13 and says it was “dreadful”. He was singing out of key but he still keep persisting. He talks about the 10,000 hour rule – that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something you’ll get good at it. This tenacity is so important, and in fact that this should probably be at the top of our list of 5 lessons.
- Be flexible. When Ed was 16 he left home and went to London to become a musician. Many parents would not support this, being so young and not pursuing A-Levels or higher education, but Ed acknowledges that there was no harm in just giving it a try. He refers again to the 10,000 rule and how even if he went and gigged for four years non-stop and it didn’t work out he’d still only be 20 and there would be plenty of time to change direction. We are so often led to believe that life is a linear path, one continuous journey, but actually life is lots of paths intersecting and splitting off at all times. Don’t be afraid to try, fail, and try something else. High five to Ed’s parents for supporting his brave 16-year old pursuits!
- Set goals and value your achievements. Ed had a dream to sell 100,000 albums and play at Shepherd’s Bush. Just before he released his first album he did a gig that got slated in the press. He was pretty down, but the following week his album launched and sold 102,000 copies. Boom! Rather than wallow in those miserable reviews, he acknowledged that he had reached a massive milestone for himself and had achieved what he set out to achieve.
So, dreams do come true. But you have to be willing to dream them first!
Image: Ludmila Joaquina Valentina Buyo via Flickr