Monday, 23 May 2016

The benefit of persistence

I remember just prior to Christmas 2013 I was in the car listening to ‘Afternoons with Jim Mora’ on National Radio. Mora interviewed Ginny Blackmore, an up and coming young New Zealand singer songwriter. Aside from the quality of her music, I was particularly struck by her description of her journey to 2013. All she wanted to do was write music, and so she left school early, her parents giving their permission on the proviso that she wrote music full time (quite an act of faith from the parents, I thought). Her ‘overnight success’ took over three years and there she was (at the time of the interview) having just secured a recording deal with a major record company in Los Angeles.

This is something I often see. Success is most often found when we follow our passions. I have seen it with my own children and I see it often with teenagers more generally. When asked to give advice on subject choices, we go through the usual issues of aligning subject choices to possible future career choices, but we should also ask what there is in our children's mix of subject choices that ‘spins her/his wheels’? It is a long day at school if there is nothing in the day about which you could be enthusiastic.

Art Costa, an American writer, established what he described as the 'Habits of Mind', a set of 16 habits of 'dispositions' that seem to be common to successful people regardless of culture or age, and regardless of the activity they pursue in life. One of these is persistence, the ability to stick with a task until complete, until you find success. Art Costa’s ‘Persistence’ is perhaps no better illustrated than in Blackmore’s example. Ginny Blackmore knew what she wanted to do, and stuck at it. She sat in her bedroom day after day, working an eight hour day by all accounts, building a body of material that she could take to the world.

You can find Jim Mora’s interview here:

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Be bold be brave

I feel truly privileged to have the opportunity to once more be a part of the Hornby community. It is a great community filled with amazing people. It won't be my normal habit to use this blog to repeat what I say in assemblies, but my first senior assembly contained the essential message that I hope will be the hallmark of my time at Hornby High School.

In my mihi on Monday 2 May I included the following saying:
Korihi te manu  
Takiri mai i te ata  
Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea  
Tihei  Mauri Ora! 

Which translates as:

The bird sings
The morning has dawned
The day has broken
Behold there is Life!

I want to read you one of my favourite poems.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Why did I choose to read that? 

The thing that many of us fear is not that we are powerless, but that we are powerful beyond our wildest imaginings. 

Know that you have the power to make any change that this world needs and that the only way that you will make the changes the world needs is by taking that path less travelled. Dare to be different, dare to challenge everything around you. Ask why why why!!

I am challenging you to be bold, be brave, be amazing.  They say that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. To change the world for the better you have to do things differently, to take the path less travelled. 

If I had any criticism of you at all it is that you don’t see how truly talented and powerful you are. Aspire to big things, know that you have the talent. Find something in the world that excites you, or something that makes you angry, and set out to change it. Don’t accept no, don’t accept second best, strive for excellence.