Paul Lawrence grew up in Jamaica and came to the UK in 1989.
Having completed both secondary and tertiary schooling in Jamaica, upon arrival I went straight into the world of work as a Telecommunications Engineer for Mercury Communications. By 1996 I was working as a freelance Project Manager with companies UK- and EU-wide.
In 2001, I was among a group of Black men, who founded the London chapter of The 100 Black Men. Here I met like-minded Black men and thus developed my first true taste for individual personal development. Soon after, I opened my first business, Mentoring Solutions, which became The Life Skills Training Consultancy and is now called Engage Training.
Engage Training provides a variety of training solutions to individuals, community organisations and businesses. We believe that knowledge and skills are only two sides of the achievement triangle – the third being attitude.
Our courses include: Executive Coaching, Public Speaking, Business Mentoring, Mentor Training, Goal Setting, and we will even create within your organisation a full blown mentoring scheme.
How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life? How do you feel about that choice?
Perhaps, like many people, I came to my current role by chance. After a long bout of unemployment, I vowed to never be broke again, and began seeking paid opportunities to speak to anyone who would listen about personal development. It turned out I had a knack – not just for public speaking, but also for connecting with young people. I guess that from that point I knew personal development with the young and not-so-young was where I wanted to focus my efforts.
I love what I do. Helping people find breakthroughs in their lives is extremely satisfying. No amount of money can replace the feeling I get when I meet someone I hardly remember and they attribute their success in some way to words that I have spoken.
Who are you trying to reach?
I’m trying to reach the ‘forgotten middle’. Our society is full of people who are not wealthy enough to control power, nor poor enough to obtain help. Socially they are forgotten and simply try to get by. I want to teach them that ‘getting by’ is not enough, and certainly not why their Creator put them here. We can all soar like eagles.
What is the biggest challenge facing community leaders today?
Without doubt, the biggest challenge facing community leaders is the question of trust and support. Our community leaders lack our trust and, as such, we do not support them; leaders in such times need to be supported.
Our leaders need to know that, when they step forward to represent our needs and the system pushes back, we will provide a cushion for them. Unfortunately too many so-called leaders have been self-serving and thus our trust has been eroded.
If we all agree that parenting is one of the most difficult roles in life, then parenting alone must be even more difficult. Personally, I do not believe God or nature designed us to parent alone. However, we must face the fact that many relationships do not work and the result is single-parent households…typically led by women. As a society, we need to support these households. The heads of such households need to seek out support groups, like The 100 and Urban Synergy, where they can find professional, dedicated and well-trained individuals ready and willing to work with the children and to ensure that they are offered the same balance as though they had two good parents.
If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be and why?
It would have to be education. And I don’t just mean academic education. Ignorance prevails large around the world and manifests itself in so many ways. Educated, awake people do not make the self-defeating choices we see day to day worldwide.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years, I will be a multiple-published author. My first book, ‘Lessons I Taught My Son’, will be completed by the end of 2016.
What do you do for fun?
What do I do for fun? I travel. I haven’t travelled the world yet, but I’m getting there. Nothing beats waking up in a new place with days to explore and dip into new and exciting cultures.
Our website is www.engagetraining.org.uk
Twitter: @idleyaride or @xthoughtleader