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24 September 2021

St Peter's 13-18

24 September 2021

A reminder about leadership. There are visible signs such as Monitors and Heads of School wearing gowns and in their own way, everyone who has come on stage has exercised leadership in one way or another. Likewise, the captains of the sports team lead their teams but crucially all leaders are not just leaders of terms but members of teams and without an effective team there is no sense of leadership.  As I said last term when the positions of leadership were announced – you don’t have to wear a gown to exercise leadership and you can be a leader in anything and everything you do by doing your best and setting the right example. Or to put it more simply, know the way, show the way and go the way.  Finally, leadership is an act of service and never forget that leaders are there to serve others and not to act for their own status.

In thinking about what to say to you all in person after such a long time of recording videos to be seen remotely I found myself thinking today marks an interesting time in the history of our school.  In one sense we are returning to how things have been in the past and yet we have also developed so many new skills, experiences and ways of being St Peter’s over the last eighteen months that there is also a sense of the past catching up with the future.  Fellow fans of TS Eliot will remember his lines on the malleability of time in the Four Quartets,

Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past.

In that spirit, I found myself going back to my first assembly address to the school in January 2019 where I shared my thoughts on what guides me in life and the advice I give to others.  It very much represents the things I wish had known when I was your age and as we reset and keep travelling the ‘road to normal’ I thought I would share them with you again.

When faced with two choices, always choose the one which is more challenging and difficult. After all – where is the satisfaction in doing what is easy?

The things you do for others are always more rewarding than the things you do for yourself. Volunteer, do community service, help with fund-raising.

This too shall pass. A tough message this one as it means that both the good times as well as the bad times will pass. So enjoy the good times and don’t worry about the bad ones, as they will go by.

In your future life and careers remember the need to balance three legs of a stool. Whatever job you do must satisfy three needs:  material, intellectual and spiritual. Material needs – it must give you the income you need to be happy. Intellectual - it must stretch your brain or you will be bored. Spiritual - it must mean something or the hours and effort will not be worthwhile. For what it is worth, teaching is the perfect blend of all three and I commend it to you unreservedly.

Plan ahead – get your ducks in a line – and think of the consequences of your decisions and actions.

Play what’s in front of you. Try not to worry about the past – it is gone. Don’t fret about what has not happened yet. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Finally, always do what is right and not what is easy. Life is an amazing gift. Our time on earth is but a cosmic sneeze but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of it, do our best and pass it on as best we can.