‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ Albert Einstein
As the semester ramps up, I often find myself reflecting on my own practise and that of the boys. As is always the case, we have achieved so much, however, there is still so much untapped potential out there in our community. My main issue in regard to achieving goals is procrastination…as I know it is with many other adults and teenagers!
We live our lives as though we are going to live for one thousand years when we are barely going to be here for one hundred! Recent family health issues have shaped my focus and attention over recent months, allowing me to place a lot of life’s challenges in perspective.
Everyone has great intentions. That’s an awesome start! Translating intention into action is the dilemma most of us face. We all know what we should be doing. However, all we end up doing is shrugging our shoulders. All the positive thinking in the world comes a distant second to positive doing.
So, what is the answer? As with most parents, I gain inspiration from my children…they certainly have a unique view on the world. Five-year-old’s go into action. They rarely procrastinate or catastrophize what could go wrong. They are prepared to get started and do it poorly until they can do it well. They are running out of time. The fact that it will be dark soon spurs their focus and energy towards action before their life as they know it ends for another day.
We know that excellence in any endeavour is neither instant nor an accident. Rarely do we get it right the first time. If you want to achieve something, be prepared to do it poorly until you do it well.
My encouragement to the boys is to learn to attach your self-esteem, how good you feel about yourself, to the fact that you were prepared to risk action. Gratification can then be instant. Most adults, however, have learnt to attach their self-esteem to the result, and when the result is not good, they don’t feel good. The thinking is: If I try this and the result is not good, I won’t feel good, so safer procrastinate and do nothing at all.
Get started, do it poorly for a while and remember that one per cent chance of success by trying is better than 100 per cent chance of failure by not trying at all! The four and seven-year-olds inherently know that it may not work. They have failed before too. Their focus, though, is on doing it now, because now is all there is. If they fail, they trust their problem-solving skills and their imagination to get them out of the situation. The paradox for teenagers and adults is that they have crippled their imaginations and problem-solving skills because they haven’t tried anything new for a very long time. “One day I’ll…”
As the boys reflect on their achievements over the past six months, ask these questions: So, when was the last time you did something for the very first time? When were you last prepared to do it poorly until you could do it well? When was the last time you trusted your problem-solving skills and your imagination to take you forward if, in trying something new, you failed?
The cynics of course, are busy using their imaginations to create awesome excuses to justify their procrastination. “At least I’ll have something to do tomorrow!” they jibe.
The perfect time never comes. A five-year-old goes into action and is generally happy to inconvenience themselves, and others! Now I appreciate as an adult, that there are always others to consider. The question does remain, however, how much of your life is on hold because you are waiting for the perfect moment to go into action? It might be worth considering just what parts of your life are on hold while you wait for the perfect opportunity?
For boys in the Senior School, they either have two and half years, one and a half years or only six months left at Villanova. This is not a lot of time and they should focus on:
- Whom do I need to call and reconnect with?
- What do I need to throw out?
- Where do I want to go?
- Which unhealthy relationship should I end?
- What work do I want to do?
- What person do I want to be?
Many already know how good it feels to go into action – to be in the game having a go and, despite failing at times, trust your imagination and your problem-solving skills to move forward. You have done it many times before and that is you at your very best.
Mr Steven Bremner, Principal (Acting)