There’s one thing I would have in common with most school aged parents this week – attendance at an end of year school assembly. There are five children in total in our family, and that equates to a lot of fidgety seat sitting in hot school halls over the years. The youngest of our tribe completed Year 6 this year, and this made my final primary school assembly attendance even more poignant. Mr Smith, one of the Year 6 teachers spoke at the ceremony, and he shared some thoughts I hope all teachers have the time to share with their students over the years. They were:
1. Don’t let any one tell you that you’re being unrealistic. Spot on Mr Smith! The non-conformists, unusual individuals, self-carers and self-lovers are the ones who go on to change the world. Celebrate your uniqueness, love your ability to stand true when others disagree and believe in yourself. How many more Bill Gates, Bob Geldof’s, Mother Teresa’s and Oprah’s would we have in the world today if we encouraged people to be more like themselves rather than more like others?
2. Do something you love. Why do so many of us work in the jobs that we have? I hope that it’s because we love our work, for whatever reason. However, if it’s because we need the money to pay a mortgage, pay off the car, send the kids to private school and there’s no real job satisfaction then life can sometimes feel like a struggle. With the power to begin with the end in mind, would you make the same lifestyle choices as you did ten years ago? I recognise that saying to simply live the dream may be unrealistic (I’ve been there, and still mull it over regularly with John!) but is there middle ground? With the next generation, is there hope they will (and can) live for their love of life only? Or wll they be pounded by our values and beliefs also around the need to work hard and get “things”. I’ve embedded a beautiful lecture here from Alan Watts. If you have never heard it before, it’s definitely worth checking out.
3. Don’t have a Plan B. Mr Smith, you are an inspiration! So many times in my life I have realised that what I think, I will inevitably get. In other words, where I place my focus is where I will see my outcomes – both good and bad. It was Henry Ford who said “argue for your limitations, and sure enough,they’re yours!” If I believe I don’t have a hope (or better have a back up idea just in case) then achieving will be tough because my thoughts are not aligned with my actions. I don’t know of one Olympian who enters their race thinking that second is good enough.
As perfect as Mr Smith’s school presentation was, I’d like to add a couple of extra ideas to his wonderful words…
4. Remember, you can only ever be responsible for your own life. The only person you can control is yourself, and the decisions we make in life need to come from within first, before others. Inevitably, those decisions (if done authentically) will impact the lives of others anyway. However, don’t make life decisions based on the expectations of others – base them on your expectation of yourself. That doesn’t absolve you from caring for others, or having empathy for their situation, but at the end of the day, we’re all walking our own journey, and that’s ok.
5. Failure in life will be inevitable, and is a great experience. It’s ok to fail, and failure in one area doesn’t mean you are a complete failure. Recognise it, acknowledge it, and move on. You’re not alone. Everyone will fail doing something in their life, we simply don’t talk about these experiences enough in society. Sometimes failure can lead to success in other areas, we just don’t recognise that at the time.
My thanks to all the teachers who did such a wonderful job nuturing and growing the minds and hearts of my boys this year. I think they did a stellar job, and if we have schools that are full of Mr & Mrs Smiths then our future is in good hands indeed.