High 5 – 13 January 2017 by Mr Teo Kok Keong
Good morning, School leaders, Teachers and Gessians,
Today, the theme of my Hi-Five is on “persistence”. This is one of the 16 important habits of mind. Let me start by defining “Persistence”.
In your student handbook (Page 55), “Persistence” means “sticking to task at hand; remaining focused and following through to completion.
To give you a better understanding, Newt Gingrich (American politician of Georgia) defines “persistence” as “perseverance”, which refers to the hardwork that you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”
This reminds me of Thomas Edison, who once said
“Success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.”
He is one person that exhibited traits of persistence in his life. Let me share a little about Thomas Edison’s life so that you can better understand why this is so. Being a hyperactive child, prone to distraction, he was deemed “difficult” by his teacher. His mother decided to homeschool him. However, he never gave up on himself and he became one of the greatest inventor in all times. This was attributed to his belief that if anything was worth doing, it should not happen by chance. That explained why none of his inventions were achieved accidentally. Once Thomas Edison decided on his objective, he went about it, and conducted trial after trial, until it came to be. And this is quality I hope that every student can learn from Thomas Edison – by being persistent in your life.
Very often, students get frustrated and give up, when faced with a difficult task or problem. Instead of thinking that you are not smart enough when you failed to “get it” the first time, I want all students to attempt again and again till they succeed. You should not simply expect to be told the answer or steps to find the answer because you should be the one persisting in the problem solving by testing out different strategies. In life, there will not always be a teacher to give you the answers or tell you exactly what to do. Thus, in order to successfully accomplish a task or goal, you need to develop the habit of persistence.
Below are four points that I will like all students to write down and remember :
1. Accept that failure happens.
The most successful people in life have all failed. The difference between them and people who live in fear of failure is that successful people face the failure, learn from it and use it to spur their next attempt. They persist because they know that failure is simply part of the process that leads to achievement. For yourself, learning to perceive failure as a natural part of the road to success is the key to thriving.
2. Avoid quitting at the first sign of difficulty.
This is so commonplace that a failure to persist turns into self-confirmation that not trying is the best option. I want every student to understand that anything worth doing or achieving is going to encounter hurdles and difficulties. Treat this as a given and treat the challenges as something that will test your mettle and shape you for the better, making you stronger, more astute and more compassionate. If at first you don’t succeed, try again and again. Never give up. If you don’t get the results that you are expecting at the first, second or third attempts, make many more attempts. To think that the first few failures mean that you are never going to succeed, is a self-limiting and baseless assumption. Learn from your mistakes and try, try again. Remember that you are nearer to your success with each attempt.
3. Examine the reasons for failure.
When you’ve already tried and persisted but find yourself getting rejections or hitting road bumps constantly, you may need to tweak your approach.
I remembered that we had a student last year, who did poorly in POA . He felt hopeless in the subject and decided to drop the subject in May, just before his N Levels. But his AYH, Ms Yee and POA teacher, Ms Petrina Cheong were very encouraging. They did not give up on him, despite the short runway that he had. Most importantly, he accepted the teachers’ advice and strategies and persisted on. Guess what he got for his POA in the N-Levels – an A2! From one who always failed his POA, he eventually scored an A2. This is definitely a feat for him. All his classmates could not believe it. What is more interesting, is that he has decided to pursue Accounting for his higher education.
I will like every student to learn from this incident. Sometimes you have to stop and assess the things you are doing to reach your goal- it is often not the fault of the goal but the methodology or details that haven’t been adequately clarified or tailored to help you reach the goal. Seek help if you must .
4. See the end result in your mind’s eye.
When the going gets tough and you just want to drop it all, restore your sense of purpose by remembering your vision. Visualize the end result you want to achieve, with yourself in this vision. Make sure that this is an exciting vision, something that inspires and uplifts you. Wallow in the exciting vision instead of a picture of bleak doom. You deserve the vision’s outcome, so keep reminding yourself of that as you put in the effort to achieve it.
During this weekend, I implore every student to think and reflect on these 2 questions :
1. What is my attitude to failure?
Am I scared of failing? Am I avoiding it by never persisting at anything?
2. How can I be a persistent student that lives up to the names of a true GESSIAN? Remember that one of our core values is “Resilience”.
I hope every one of you can be honest with yourself, and start persisting in the pursuit of your goals by making the right choices.
With that, I end my Hi-Five of the week. Onward.