Simply being ambitious can be a major factor in career success. In a study of 990 people, it was the ‘very ambitious’ people who were more likely to have been promoted at work, and even more importantly for you lot, the average age of the ‘promoted’ group was more than four years younger than the group who weren’t promoted. This gave us the conclusion that: younger age + high ambition = better chance of career success.

“I strongly believe without an ambition, none can be successful,” said Ivan Beckley, co-founder of Limitless, a new organisation to raise the ambition of school-aged children in London. “Ambition is the driving force that says I want to achieve something and I’m going to work towards doing do. Imagine the impact if all our kids had that grasp of true ambition. I can bet you we wouldn’t have to force a single child to go to school.”

Having only recently graduated from UCL as a medical student, Ivan set up Limitless with his friend Sogo on the basis that young people aren’t achieving their full potential, with funding help from O2 Think Big. We asked Ivan just how and why he set it up…

So what is Limitless?

“I spent a year before going to university working with a charity called City Year with the very same students we target today. Getting it right could send a young person onto a upward ladder of success. But without the right influences, guidance and support it could send hundreds, maybe even thousands of talented kids into the state of believing their dreams are unachievable; impossible in fact. I set up Limitless, alongside my good friend Sogo Akintaro, with the vision of creating a platform that encourages every young person to believe their dreams are possible if they have the right mindset.”

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“The programme is very simple. We run four, two-hour sessions throughout the year led entirely by university students. Session 1 & 2, focus on the ‘Success’ mindset – what do really successful people do differently to everyone else? While session 3 & 4, focus on ‘Career guidance’. Our 5th session is targeted solely at the parents of our students; by empowering the parents we feel our students will feel like they have support at home to reach their goals.”

How did you handle setting up the organisation?

“In beginning, we spoke to anyone and everyone who would listen to our idea: students, teachers, parents, consultants… the list goes on! After creating our programme, designing our mission statement and identifying the students we would be working with, we needed to test it will work.”

“We ran two pilot programmes in two separate schools with 30 top-set students. It was fantastic. The students loved the idea and appreciated the chance to ask questions to university students who were once sat in their very same seats.”

Was it hard work starting this organisation from scratch?

“I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Bringing an idea into reality takes time, perseverance and belief. There are times when people say your idea won’t work and others say, will you have the time? For me these comments mean little because I can see the amazing potential of Limitless to change lives. The impact that we could make is somewhat immeasurable because in those four sessions we could change the perspective that could divert one child to a road of amazing things.”

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How did O2 Think Big help you?

“We completed the O2 Think Big application which was very straightforward. We’d thought quite hard about our idea so we could easily expand on our answers. The application wasn’t hard at all as long you had thought about your idea and how the funding and support from O2 could help.”

“I think the greatest thing about O2 Think Big is the ability to tap into an amazing national network of young people that are working towards positive social action in their community. When you have a goal you are working towards the most helpful thing is having others who are working along that goal with you. Therefore we can share advice and work through problems together.”

“It was the first external organisation to believe in us so much so as to give us funding. That is testament to the fact that they want to make a significant change in communities across the UK and they believe young people can do that.”

What’s the future of Limitless?

“The future of Limitless is so bright I have to look at it with my sunglasses at the ready. We are planning to launch our programme in two schools in South London, with the aim of demonstrating significant impact and growth among our students. One of our challenges is identifying additional funding because we want to make Limitless a sustainable not-for-profit organisation.”

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“In the long term, we hope to connect our students to small businesses across London. We will understand their individual strengths and weakness therefore we can help make their Year 10 work experience something that is worthwhile. In five years time we will have a network of Limitless graduates who will be at University or in the workplace and come back to join as mentors for the next generation of Year 8 or 9 students.”

Have you got a bloody brilliant idea that you’d like funding for? You could get £300 from O2 Think Big to get your idea off the ground. We feature a project every month that has received funding from O2 to showcase the amazing things young people are doing, and it could be you next!

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