Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Resilience, what is resilience? When we are talking about the human spirit it means to have hardiness of spirit, toughness, strength and is an ability to recover from hardships.

Much research shows that it is the key component in people successful in any field of endeavour, be it sporting, be it academic, be it artistic or be it just in life in general.

Life has many twists and turns in it. We never know what lies around the corner. Resilience is the ability to meet the challenges that life throws at us and to move on as a better person for the experience.

Possibly the greatest basketballer (and one of the greatest athletes ever) Michael Jordan has this famous quote about resilience "I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career, I lost more than 300 games; on 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team as not being good enough. But he believed in himself and never stopped trying.

There will only ever be one Michael Jordan. But self belief and having resilience to keep trying when others tell you that you won’t succeed are what enable people to have a good life.

Phoebe Steel a former Columba College hockey player and now a member of the Black Sticks remains to those who know her a model of resilience. Phoebe’s Christchurch school was damaged in the earth quakes and her mother and step father decided to move to Dunedin to escape the carnage. In her first year in the hockey First Eleven the team had an interschool against national champions St Margaret's. The previous year St Margaret's had won the inter-school 15-0 (the equivalent of about 90-0 in rugby). The rest of the team were nervous, anxious and even afraid. But Phoebe spoke up saying the only way that you find out in life what you can do is to challenge yourself, play against the best. Take the knocks, suffer the abuse and taunting, smile and try harder. The team listened—the girls still lost 3-1. But at the end they had gained the respect of St Margaret's and more importantly they had developed a higher level of self belief.

A danger that we face as parents is to be a "Curler Parent". That is a parent who sweeps in front of their child, cleans a smooth path for them to follow. No bumps or challenges when young. The danger with this is that few parents can keep sweeping when they have teenagers and I would suggest not at all when the child leaves school.

My daughter Grace has been selected in a number of representative teams but we all agree she learned more when she failed to be selected in one. She stopped refocused and set goals and has then gone from strength to strength. She learnt to be resilient.

Resilience is about not letting anyone make you feel unworthy.

Have a great week, -Mike Brosnahan

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