Sean Gallagher’s visit inspires Oatlands College TY students

Sean Gallagher, Liz Barron with students from Oatlands College Transition Year - there will always be one student mugging for the camera!

“If you can dream it, you can become it”.

Sean Gallagher’s mantra has helped him to achieve all the goals he set for himself; achieving success as a farmer, politician, youth worker, sportsperson and entrepreneur.

He recently visited the Transition Year students at Oatlands College in Stillorgan and made a big impression on them.

Sean’s own story of how he overcame obstacles in his life is an inspiring one, showing how it is possible to achieve success out of adversity.

He spoke to the students about how, having had surgery as a child to correct his sight problems, he was self-conscious about wearing protective sunglasses, worrying about what his classmates thought of him and literally keeping his head down to avoid direct sunlight. However he recognised that this posture was leading to a lack of self-confidence. Realising how this might hold him back in terms of his own mental attitude, he changed this – and put on the sunglasses! He emphasised that we shouldn’t let other people’s opinion of us influence what we want and need to do for ourselves.

He also described how, having seriously injured his back as a young adult, he rebuilt his physical strength by taking up martial arts, and went on to achieve black belts in both judo and karate.

Sean’s experience in the food and service industry, and his personal skills dealing in a very genuine way with people, were evident throughout in his connection with the students, remembering their names and the points they made.

There was a lot of discussion around the business ventures that the Transition Year students are involved in – groups of them have been making and selling produce at a local farmer’s market – including smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. This was right in Sean’s “sweet spot”; the questions he asked them, about whether they’d made a profit, how much, what did they learn, what would they change, what makes for good customer service… all were questions that after just one week at the market, they had already learned about. They responded with learning points like we need to change our ingredients, change the price, offer different products – showing that sometimes young people do know better than some adults who get fixated on a specific idea in their own specific way, without listening to the market. Even the students who made a €15 loss didn’t get a rough ride – Sean said it was ok to make a loss, once you learn from it and don’t do it too often!

The students had some challenging questions for him which he gave due thought to. When asked what entrepreneur has impressed him the most, Sean talked about someone he worked with who set up a business based around his interest in horses and background in farming – as he said, he could have chosen something easier, but worked with something he was passionate about, and resulted in him being successful and happy.

Sean encouraged and challenged the students to consider how they can use their talents and skills to contribute to our society, as they will be the managers, consumers, entrepreneurs and job creators of Ireland’s future.

Ultimately Sean Gallagher, with everything he has already accomplished and no doubt will in the future, embodies the idea that we don’t have to be defined by what we do, or be limited to just being one thing… an accountant, a doctor, a plumber. We all have many talents and unique strengths, so we can do whatever we choose, once we believe in it and are prepared to work at it.

His visit to Oatlands College was an inspiration for all those who met him and will no doubt inspire those who were there to dream about and work towards whatever they want to become.

Liz Barron, Realize Coaching – www.realize.ie

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