founder of naked leader

For my daughter 

For my daughter 

Time to be read: Slightly under 2 minutes
For my daughter

oliviaDear Olivia,

You have been an inspiration to me, my beliefs and writing every day since I first met you, when you were just 3 years old. I write about you, talk about you and am still amazed at how much you and your brother have taught me, and continue to do so.

And to think you were diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of 8 – you were told there was something ‘wrong’ with you and overnight we all became experts in something we knew so little about. Your mum and I went through many exercises with you, you were given extra time at school and we received a torrent of advice, most of which suggested you would be held back in life from achieving your dreams.

Three abiding memories of what has happened since then, and now:

One – Denise Thornton – The one expert who told you how lucky you were to have dyspraxia, and how many famous people have the same thing, and have used it to their advantage Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Branson, Einstein to name but three. Oh, what a difference that made in you – to your belief, confidence and of course, future…

Two – I suppose I should have guessed your love and passion for maths when you completed that Super Fiendish Sudoku quicker than I completed the Easy one. However, nothing prepared me for being there when you received your First Class Honours Degree in Maths from Southampton University. You said to me “I am sorry you came all this way for just 60 seconds” (The time it took for you to walk on the stage to receive your award). Olivia, I would have walked to the other side of the world to see that minute.

And three, the reason for the timing of this letter – you have just passed your final exam to become a qualified Management Accountant. WOW!!! You passed every exam first time, you carried on your day job at Whitbread throughout, and when you came home you never once took your stress of studying out on me.

Well, maybe that last bit isn’t entirely true!

But I don’t mind.

How could I?

Because, achievements, arguments and anything else aside, please always know this one thing more than any other:

I love you


Share your challenges and achievements in the comments

31 Responses to For my daughter 

  1. Hi David – what a wonderful open letter today to your daughter – and many congratulations to Olivia on her amazing success.

    Puts everything else into perspective.


  2. Oh wow – how beautiful! And how timely – my department is currently in the middle of our Diversity & Inclusion Awareness Month, where we raise awareness of diversity and present our company’s four diversity networks, which provide development, mentoring and other support to colleagues from ethnic minoirities (GEM – or Group Ethnic Minorities), disabled colleagues (Access Disability Network), women (Breakthrough Network) or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender colleagues (Rainbow Network). I am hosting a series of Disability Awareness Live Meetings and this note resonates with many of the points I am making in my presentation. Thanks for sharing and many congratulations to both Olivia and her parents – it always helps to have parents like you! (I know because I have a Mum like you – she is a born naked Leader, whilst my dad was always the one saying I won’t do this, I won’t do that, it’s just a phase, I am ‘anti-talent’ etc…)

  3. A lovely story David. You must be so proud of Olivia.
    It reminded me of a story published in Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” by W. Livingston Larned – “Father Forgets” although in your case you have done anything but forget.
    You continue to inspire.
    Warm regards

    • Thank you Paul – that book is one of my favourites of all time and I re-read ‘Father Forgets’ last night. David x

  4. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Wonderful heartfelt story…..It reminds me of when I read Jack Welch’s book. He has a significant stutter and his mum kept telling him “Don’t worry Jack your brain is so fast your mouth just can’t keep up” and he didn’t care about the teasing in school because his mum gave him the confidence that it was an advantage! Incredible how positive encouragement can turn a weakness into an advantage in the mind of the beholder.
    All the best

  5. What a fantastic, moving and supportive story. Thank you for sharing it with us David and many congratulations to Olivia. Well done and best wishes for the future.

  6. Comment received via email, thank you –


    I have tears of joy reading this …. what a wonderful inspiration she must be to those lucky to be around her!


  7. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Lovely message and appreciation of what sounds like a loving friendship .
    Warms the soul


    Jenny F

  8. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Hi David
    This should have come with a mascara warning!! I now have a meeting in 1 minute and I look like I’ve been letting my child put my makeup on!!

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s such a moving tribute to someone who is clearly an inspiration to you, and now to all of your readers! I have 3 children who are sooooo different from each other, I have a boy (13) who is into singing, dancing and acting; a girl (8) who loves sports and another boy (10) who is just so clever it’s scary! My children do not fit with social norms and I simply don’t care – they are amazing people who have found their thing and I’m doing my best to encourage them to be the best they can be. This has reminded me that as they grow they only need to know that I’m proud of them and that I would also cross the world to spend just 1 minute celebrating their successes.

    Thanks again (and please, next time a little bit of warning that I need to wait until after my meeting to read your post would be very much appreciated!)

  9. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Hi David,
    I have to say, this is truly inspirational & almost brought a tear to my eye (but I bit my lip just in time!)

    I’m going to have to keep this one for the next occasion someone needs a bit of help with their ‘self belief’.

    Alan M

  10. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Thank you for this very inspiring email.
    Sally M

    • This one took awhile – I read it to Olivia last week and she said it was “ok” – praise indeed! Thank you Daniel David x

  11. thank you for this open letter, it bought back memories of when I graduated in 2012, I had just completed my Masters and my Dad came all the way from Essex to Manchester to see me Graduate, he was so proud of me, it was amazing, I was 58 and my Dad was 79, he sadly passed away earlier this year, but I guess you never stop being your daddy’s little girl no matter how old you are

  12. Comment received via email, thank you –

    Dear David,

    What a beautiful letter to such a wonderful daughter. I know that you must be so proud. Thank you for sharing this.

    I always feel better for having read one of your missives. Please keep doing what you are doing. You touch people and this world is better for you being in it.

  13. Comment received via email, thank you –


    That is phenomenal. Thank you. You truly are an inspiration.

    Thank you for once again setting up my day for success.

  14. Thank you for sharing David. Truly inspirational on so many levels, as a dad, parent, educator and learner. Just by reading this I am in awe. There are no barriers… Only opportunities to try something new.
    Congratulations to your daughter. Inspirational!

    Kindest regards,

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