Finding out ‘what they didn’t teach you at School’ – at School!

Old Elizabethan Kam Taj, who is a performance coach and motivational speaker, gave some life lessons to boys at both ends of the School.

Kam (OE 2004–2011) spoke first to Years 7–10 as part of the Lower School lecture programme, delivering an address entitled Ten things they didn’t teach you at School. He then returned to lead a workshop on similar themes to Year 12 boys seeking places at Oxbridge.

After leaving QE, Kamran Tajbaksh, who is known professionally by the shorter versions of his names, took a first in Manufacturing Engineering at Churchill Colllege, Cambridge, and gained a Master’s degree with Merit in the same discipline. On graduating, he initially took up a post as a management consultant with a global company, but then decided in June 2016 to become a performance coach and motivational speaker.

""In his talk, he drew frequently on his own story, including the challenges he faced firstly in the Sixth Form to achieve the grades he needed for Cambridge and then in his first couple of years at the university, when he under-achieved. His talk was packed with memorable maxims, such as: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

""Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I am grateful to Kam for helping our pupils. His use of personal stories engaged the boys, helping them to relate to him and thus making his advice all the more powerful.”

Kam’s ten lessons were:

1. Let go of pressure

  • “Our intrinsic pressure should drive us, not paralyse us”
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection (which is impossible anyway)
  • Don’t think that the ‘highlights reel’ others display on social media is a true reflection of their whole life

""2. Just do your best

  • “It is better to try, and to be disappointed, than not try, and forever wonder.”
  • Be honest with yourself as to what your best is – but know t hat it can get better each day

3. Redefine failure

  • “It’s not failure if you learn from it and get back up again”

4. “Find your why; find your way”

  • Work out why you are doing something and what the end goal is, then draw a line between that future and now to see what you need to do to get there.

""5. Build firm foundations

  • Invest your time and effort in your academic studies, but also become a well-rounded person through activities such as sport and Music.

6. There is a difference between examinations and learning

  • Learning is life-long and should be for the love of it.

7. The importance of planning

  • You will always do better if you have a good plan.

""8. “It&rsqu o;s ok to slow down…but don’t stop entirely – keep going, in a sustainable way”

  • Fatigue is our greatest enemy
  • It is important to look after yourself – eat well, exercise, rest, write things down if you are stressed.

9. Strength is managing your feelings

  • Don’t buy societal mistruths about it being wrong to express feelings or bad to fail. It is not weak to ask for help.

10. Be grateful – put things into perspective.

  • “Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.”