Blog The Extraordinary Ordinary

Episode 11 – Liam O’Connor: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I first met Liam in 2014, and then quickly over the years, our friendship blossomed and I am really lucky and proud to call him one of my best and closest friends. He did this interview for me in late 2018, but being the wonderful reflector and modest person he is, he only shared it with me after visiting us in Switzerland last week, and I am so incredibly grateful he did.

Liam is someone I have wanted to ask these questions to for a long time, because as a person he inspires me on so many levels. Liam has achieved an incredible amount in such a short space of time, and every time I speak to him he is embarking on a new course, job or adventure to discover more about himself, the world and the people in it.

Our stories are also in some elements quite similar, which I think is why on a personal level I really relate to and value all the advice but also the experiences he can offer as a person. As an individual Liam is one of the hardest working, self-motivating and determined people I have ever had the fortune to spend time with.

He has overcome adversity, obstacles and challenges that I would say the majority of us would never even be able to imagine, never mind live through. It could have shaped his character in so many ways, and yet he emerged as a genuine, considerate and caring individual who goes above and beyond for everyone in his circle. The way he and his Fiancee Lydia are as people, the way they help those around them, strive to see the world, and do it with a huge pinch of kindness and good humour along the way, is something I think we can all learn a lot from.

I hope that his goal of working in politics and running for parliament comes true sooner rather than later, as personally I think we could all use someone like Liam to represent us, support us and champion our voices.

If you take anything from Liam’s interview I would strongly recommend it’s about setting yourself goals close to your values, never settling for less than you know you can achieve, and working hard to get there. Luck isn’t real, but perseverance, kindness and true dedication are, and Liam highlights to me what happens when you really focus on those core traits and elements.

Thank you for taking the time to do this Liam, we can all learn a lot from you.

Liam

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

I am at my happiest when I am content, and I am content when I am striving towards something. I need a goal that I am working towards to feel content, thus happiness, in my day to day life.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

It is hard to pinpoint one book that has had the most influence on me, as so many have. The book that originally made me fall in love with literature was, embarrassingly, Harry Potter. I remember reading it for the first time when I was about eight years old and felt an emotional connection to the characters that had never developed through film or TV.

However, the book that has had the biggest impact upon my life would be Christopher Hitches, Arguably. this book is what originally got me infused with debate, politics and philosophy. There are countless books that have helped develop or changed my knowledge and opinion, however arguably is what originally made me passionate about thinking

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Nothing that is worth having will ever come easy, otherwise, everyone would have it.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I surround myself with reminders of who I want to be, and what I am working towards. I read literary works of famous philosophers and historians so I can use their wisdom when I might be struggling or distracted

 

What inspires you?

People inspire me, especially people who have overcome tremendous obstacles in their life to still be well rounded successful people. I love seeing people who have been undervalued by society coming back to prove people wrong.

What are your top three priorities?

My top priority is to live a long healthy life with my beautiful fiancée. If I don’t achieve any other life goal but that, I will still die a very happy man.

Another priority of mine is to run for parliament at some point in my life. I feel a need to try and make this world a little bit better for me being in it, and feel I could enact the biggest change through parliamentary politics.

Finally, my last priority would be to see as much of the world as possible; I want to experience everything every culture has to offer.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

Undoubtedly it is the belief that I am extremely confident. I have struggled with self-esteem issues throughout my life, and to counter that I have created a persona of someone who is overly confident and can do anything.

 

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

The purchase that means the most to me is undoubtedly an engagement ring for my fiancée. I proposed in January, I have never been more nervous than when I got down on one knee, I could hardly speak. Thankfully she said yes!

I start my master’s degree this month, in Public Administration and Public Policy. I have had to take a loan out to pay for it, however, I believe in the long run it will be a financially sound investment.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Well, as I am yet to start working within the field of my choice, I cannot really advise anyone upon that. If someone decided they want to re-enter full-time education as a mature student, I would recommend they go for it. You can over think decisions if you dedicate too much thought to them, there will always be reasons to not take risks, however, if its truly something you want to do and are passionate about, go for it!

Secondly, you have to be hyper-organised and dedicated. I started college with more than 60 people, all intent on going to university as mature students, only two of us graduated this year. Everyone either gave up or couldn’t do it.

What are you most proud of?

Finishing my degree and being offered a place on a masters course was pretty cool.

2018 has been an amazing year so far: I got engaged, passed my driving test, completed my degree and will have started my masters.

An unusual habit of yours?

I don’t think I really have habits, especially not any unusual ones. There are things I do every day, however, nothing that I think I couldn’t give up with ease. Something I instinctively do, without thinking, is check the news; usually through the BBC website, many times throughout the day. Sometimes ill subconsciously open my phone and go straight to the news, even if I had closed my phone 30 seconds before

What do you do every single day?

I can’t really answer this question, as apart from the utterly mundane, there isn’t anything I can think of that I do every day.

I suppose every day I try and do something that the Me of tomorrow will thank Me for, to do little things every day that will improve me as a person; in any way.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential” Winston Churchill

His Key Advice:

  • Every day try and do something that the You of tomorrow will thank You for.
  • There will always be reasons to not take risks, however, if its truly something you want to do and are passionate about, go for it.
  • See as much of the world as possible.
  • Nothing that is worth having will ever come easy, otherwise, everyone would have it.
  • Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential

Unfortunately for us, Liam doesn’t have any social media (which I think we can all learn a lesson from in this digitally addictive age) so following him online isn’t an option. However watch this space, as I know in a few years you’ll be seeing a lot more of him whether it’s through his published writing or running for parliament!

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