I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that, whatever happens, you can learn from it and create something really positive.
I originally wrote those words while recalling the 2011 fire that destroyed the Great House on Necker Island, my family’s Caribbean island home, which is part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio of luxury properties. As I recounted in my most recent book, Finding My Virginity, hurricane-fanned flames sparked by a rooftop lightning strike advanced on my closest friends and family members as they slept inside.
Thankfully, everyone escaped and survived. As we gathered in shock, I drew comfort from a life lesson that once again was crystal clear: Things aren’t important. People are.
It’s no secret that I’m always learning. I view life as a big adventure. I’m continually looking for new things to try and challenges to overcome. Success inspires me, but lessons drawn from failures are what make successes possible. The lifelong learning mindset has helped me tremendously since I started out in business more than 50 years ago after dropping out of school at age 15.
In business, adversity is guaranteed. Like a fire, problems come unexpectedly. You can’t douse every threat, but there’s a lot you can do to stay prepared for the uncertain future.
Helping your people build skills and providing them with new career opportunities helps your organization take on tomorrow. That’s the key insight running through this year’s Degreed LENS Lite virtual conference on Wednesday, May 5th. I’m delighted to be the opening keynote speaker and thrilled to be joined by closing keynote speaker Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and bestselling author, with whom I’ve had several enlightening conversations about the future of education.
If you’re a business, talent, HR, or learning leader, I hope you’ll join me and the innovative people at Degreed as well as thousands of your industry peers at LENS Lite. I look forward to exploring how the most durable and effective companies are investing where it matters most — in their people.
Like Degreed, I view education as fluid and flexible. At the Virgin Group, we’re always building on individuals’ needs and talents. Time and again, I’ve seen workplace upskilling opportunities stimulate, nourish, and celebrate potential. As I once said, and is often repeated across the talent and learning community: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
In today’s pandemic-affected world of work, the upskilling need is clear.
The people on your team can always learn something new and helpful, no matter where they are in their careers. Wherever your business needs to go, the future is yours to create.
Indeed, no matter what happens you can learn from it — and create something really positive.
What happened after the Great House burned is all the proof I’ve needed.
Less than six months after the fire, an amazing thing happened. My daughter Holly got married in a beautiful ceremony right there amid the ruins.
And today, the Great House stands again.
See Sir Richard Branson’s full presentation at Degreed LENS Lite, May 5. Register here!