Mark Richards: motivations for becoming successful

Mark Richards talks about the reaction of his classmates to his success at school, and how wanting to prove himself has been a motivating factor throughout school and his career.

Listen to the full interview track and all other tracks from this interview on British Library Sounds


The school that we ended up going to, was in a fairly nice part of town, of Nottingham. And what it meant was that you had sort of, two different classes of people. Those who were obviously sort of middle class, professionals, very well-to-do,so  the children of those people. And then you had the sort of working class people which included a few minorities as well in that mix. There was a time when we were, it was a chemistry class, I was probably about 13 or something, and the teacher had given some test, and he read out the marks in reverse order. And it was the first time that somehow I had got top of the class, I had got the top mark in the class. Now, it was a surprise to me as much as to anyone else. It was a surprise to the class, it was a surprise to the teacher. But then what kind of, what I wasn't expecting was the reaction of the boffins, the ones who always get top of the class. They were looking at me with disgust, and one of them even asked the teacher 'can you check, can you check that you've marked his correctly, to check', and that was when it irked something in me to say, 'Well why not? Why can't I get top of the class, why not?' And so in the end I started battling with these boffins on a regular basis and it started spilling into other subjects as well. I wanted to prove a point, and I, in a way, that has kind of stayed with me to this day. I don't think there is one type of person who is in a god-given right to be in certain position. I'm very much one to believe in a merit based society. You know, you should be paid according to your works, and you know, you're rewarded according to your efforts. And I don't know if that is just me but I've always felt that over, throughout my career trajectory, that there comes many different times when you have to keep proving yourself, or re-proving yourself in a certain context.  I think now, I suppose at this stage in my life, I get a little bit tired of it and sometimes I decide I don't want to prove myself anymore, but back then I was very much, you know, quite forthright with my approach, that I want to learn this to show those guys that I can be just as good as them. And I felt in a sort-of holistic kind-of way that I was defending more than just me by doing that, there was more of a symbolic importance in being there. So it wasn't so much the intrinsic - I mean different people have different reasons why they get into sort of science and so on. I wouldn't necessarily say that for me I was always fascinated by the stars or, by a particular thing, it was more of an educational game where we were battling.
  • Interviewee Mark Richards
  • Duration 00:02:56
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 8/1/2013
  • Shelfmark C1379/99

Related Video Clips

Related themes

Related disciplines