At each college assembly a school leader addresses students. At the August assembly Tara Graves (College Vice Captain) gave her experience of passion, mistakes and motivation. It was a busy event for Tara who performed with the senior aerobics team and the percussion ensemble.
When I was 7 years old I made a mistake and that mistake haunts me to this day. When I was 7 years old I was playing on top of the wooden playground on a sunny day in March, and two of my friends fell and landed on each other. Little did I know that these two friends had fallen on top of each other by accident. Being the naive 7 year old I was I yelled "stacks-on’"and jumped on top of my two friends lying flat and helpless on the tanbark. I wouldn’t have called myself the lightest 7 year old on the planet and stacks on was not the game they were playing, which I soon found out. When I got up laughing I realised the friend at the bottom was softly crying and holding his arm. You know what I did? I helped him wash the dirt out of his eyes and took him to First Aid. It turned out he had broken his arm. I broke his arm.
I’m not telling you this story to show you what a game of stacks-on can achieve but instead that you can fix any mistake you ever make. It is not the end of the world if you fail a science test, or you forgot to wish your friend a happy birthday, if you watched TV all night instead of studying for English essay, or you said something you know you shouldn’t have. You can turn that mistake around. You can make it better but only if you’re willing. You can say "alright I made this mistake once. I’ll do better next time". You can always make things better. Surprisingly enough this friend whose arm I broke did acknowledge my existence again and we a still friends today. Well sort of - if you call grunting and nodding his head whenever I see him a friendship.
It’s August now. I know right. Time flies. This is the time when our will to learn, our will to study, and our will to leave the warm comfort of our beds, drops. And those mistakes start to get to us. Those mistakes always come in waves and, at this stage, mistakes are coming in tidal waves worthy of a gnarly surf. It is okay to make mistakes because everyone does. Everyone makes them, but trust me, in five years you will not be defined by the mistake itself but how you recovered from it. How you made it better.
But how do we recover from breaking someone’s arm? How could I motivate myself to speak to this poor boy again who I squashed like a bug, or play on that wooden playground that I loved so dearly?
One word, passion.
I have this belief that passion, in all cases, beats raw skill. Passion conquers motivation. Find something that you are passionate about, whether it is sport, music, science, writing, reading ANYTHING. Within that passion you will find the motivation to succeed in whatever your heart desires, despite the mishaps, mistakes and brick walls you come across.
So let’s solve these mistakes. We will start with one that the Year 10s can learn from, better sooner than later. Mistake: the VCE students did not clean the area around the microwave. Nor did we bother to clean the microwave itself and hence no microwave. That microwave had vanished before our very eyes. Now only one microwave remains. We need to find the motivation within ourselves to ask for that microwave back, to clean those microwaves until they are spotless. We are passionate about our lunchtimes, the only time of the day to catch up with our gal pals and talk about the weekend. We do not want to waste our lunchtimes, standing in line to warm up last night’s curry? Through passion we will motivate ourselves to clean the microwaves after we have used them.
This is only one small example of how passion can create motivation. When motivated, we learn from our mistakes and grow as people. But failure and mistakes still don’t feel like an awesome learning opportunity. So embrace failures, mistakes, screw ups and shortcomings because they not only make us uniquely who we are, they also teach us powerful lessons.
Mistakes teach us to engage in our lives - to live fully. We are not our behaviours and we are more than our mistakes. Many people, when faced with a big mistake, begin to pull back - to retreat. Instead, we can use the failure as evidence that we are growing, risking and stretching to meet our potential, motivating us to continue to push on. Mistakes help us to remember that we are not content to play it safe. We understand that without risk there is sometimes no reward.
My Nan is a very important person in my life, if you haven’t already guessed. She has recently developed a fascination that I can’t quite comprehend where it’s come from and why it is so. My Nan has all of a sudden become obsessed with AFL, the Australian Football League. This born and raised English woman’s favourite pastimes consist of napping with her dog, watching Eggheads, completing Sudoku on the beach and drinking wine at the local bowls club. AFL was a much unexpected leisure activity my Nan developed. Now she refuses to miss a game on the telly and could tell you a thing or two about shepherding. A lesson can be learnt here as always with my Nan. It's never too late to be passionate about something, about anything. You are never too late to grab life by the ears and give it a go. Of course I can’t say we will be seeing her on the field at the MCG kicking goals, but that sure has heck hasn’t stopped her from dreaming. That hasn’t discouraged her and it shouldn’t discourage you, because age is but a number. It does not define you.
Your mistakes happen, but they won’t define you. Don’t let them. Follow your passions and find that motivation within yourself to continue to strive for greatness. In my eyes, you are all full of greatness.
College Vice Captain