Originality and flair can take a school-leaver far

What are you going to do with your life? How are you going to achieve success?

Here are the manuals; please decide now.

As a student now mid-way through year 13, I am finding it increasingly impossible to avoid those bombarding questions and looming pressures relating to my future.

It's a bit of a shock to the system to be honest, going from a life of comfortably leeching off my parents to being told you suddenly have to leave home, then work your butt off at university so that one day you can get a good job and eventually ''be successful''.

But can everyone have a successful career just by following this formula?It would seem we also need some originality and flair in order to differentiate ourselves from everyone else.

However, if we aren't taught these key skills in these manuals, then how do we obtain them?I gained some valuable pointers to answering these questions through listening to world-class American journalist Seymour Hersh.

His insight into a career in journalism was invaluable, highly relevant information for a classroom full of inquisitive media and history students.

Of course, the teachers got all excited when he strongly reaffirmed the advice they have been drilling into us from day one, such as: ''If you want to be a writer, first you have to be a reader,'' and ''don't trust Wikipedia as a reputable source''.

However, of much more interest to us aspiring journalists was the insight Hersh provided into the actual nitty gritty detective roles that journalists play out when bringing suppressed stories to the surface.

When Hersh described how he went about uncovering the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians during the late 1960s, I got the sense that being successful as a journalist is as much about having the initiative and courage to follow your nose as it is about being a diligent history student.

To ''make it'' is perhaps more than the grades - it's having the edge to source information that hasn't just been put directly in front of you, as well as the tenacity and creativity to express your ideas in an original way.

Perhaps then the key to this idealised success we are all after is not only in our work ethic, but also in our personality traits such as the charisma and initiative that evidently led Hersh to uncover one of the most infamous incidents in the Vietnam War.

Is having originality and flair a core ingredient in the recipe to success?Because it seems that is one thing the life manuals don't teach you how to do.

Growing up we are taught many academic, sporting and cultural skills, all of which serve to differentiate us from the masses and enable our success.

But in this process, is this type of traditional education also limiting the initiative and creativity we need to be truly brilliant?If so, perhaps we need to actively seek out people like Seymour Hersh who inspire us, so we, too, can develop our own spark.


By Emily Moore, Year 13, Mt Aspiring College

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