Following the Sports Day result it seems very appropriate for me to be doing a Reflection on the theme of perseverance. To start I would like to tell you about one of the happiest days of my life.
Now which day, I hear you ask, might I be thinking of? The day I got married? The birth of my first child? No. Those were both great, unforgettable days but the one I am thinking about today is, in fact, the day I passed my minibus driving test, at the fifth attempt.
It was shortly after I joined the RGS in 2009 that I began my minibus driving journey. After some fairly traumatic hours spent during one Easter holiday with a rather fierce ex-truck driver called Kim, negotiating the roundabouts of Reading, I had my first minibus test failure: only one major because apparently a car had had to slow down when I pulled out but hey, enough for me to fail. Several rounds of lessons later and three more failed tests each a few months apart, I think I was coming close to admitting that I just wasn’t a good enough minibus driver to pass the test.
I had experienced some knock-backs before but somehow, this time, the situation felt more hopeless. However, having already irritated the then Bursar with quite how much money had been spent on my minibus training I thought I had better give it one more try; after a few hours with a new (slightly kinder) driving teacher in Enfield I was finally ready to give it another go. This time I was ready for whatever the one-way systems of Woking were going to throw at me and, lo and behold, I passed.
The experience of having overcome this series of failures and finally achieving a goal filled me with the most enormous sense of joy. And it wasn’t the prospect of now having the privilege of being able to take the chess team to Croydon on a Friday night. What I felt at that moment was the feeling that change was possible; that I didn’t have to define myself as ‘good at this’ or ‘bad at that’. If you have a positive ‘growth mindset’ you realise that, when you say you can’t do something, what you are really saying is that you can’t do that thing yet.
So I urge you not to define yourself too much as if your skills were unchanging entities. Think about the great things you have done already and have faith that many of those goals that may initially seem unreachable, can with perseverance be achieved.
Mr Sam Baker