High 5 – 19 August 2016 by Mr Sea Chi Huah Rodney
Good morning Mdm Tan, Mr. Lee, Mr. Chow, colleagues and fellow Gessians,
For today’s High-5 speech, I would like to share with you a story. This story is about Li Bai. Li Bai, a Chinese poet during the Tang Dynasty more than a thousand two hundred years ago (701-762 AD), was critically acclaimed as a genius and a romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights.
As a child, Li Bai was naughty and disliked studying. One day he saw an old woman grinding an iron rod on a big stone when he was playing by a river. Driven by curiosity, Li Bai came up and asked,
“What are you doing, granny?”
“Grinding an iron rod,” said the old women without stopping the grinding.
“What is that for?” he asked again.
“To make a sewing needle,” was the answer.
“What?!” little Li Bai was puzzled, “you want to grind such a big rod into a needle? It will take you many years.”
“It doesn’t matter. As long as I persevere in doing so, there is nothing I cannot achieve in this world. Certainly I can make a needle from the rod.”
Deeply moved by what the old woman said, Li Bai took effort to study since then, and he eventually became one of the greatest poets in China.
So what can we learn from this story? There are three things we can learn from this story:
1. Perseverance. So long as you do not give up but instead keep on keeping on, you can even grind an iron rod into a needle. In other words, Perseverance spells success.
2. Hard work. There is a saying by General Colin Powell, a US general who took part in the Iraq Kuwait War, that goes like this, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
3. Resilience. This is defined as “the mental capacity and toughness to recover quickly from difficulties”. Many times, we may face setbacks when doing something, or we face a lot of obstacles, and do not see any results despite trying very hard. We have to learn how to bounce back from these setbacks and just keep trying.
These qualities are evident in Joseph Schooling who not only won the 100m Butterfly finals, but set a new Olympic record of 50.39s in the Rio Olympics. In 2008, Schooling was inspired by his idol Michael Phelps whom he met when he was only 13 years old. In 2016, through sheer perseverance, hard work and resilience in overcoming with his share of setbacks (in the London Olympics), Joseph Schooling finally beat his idol at the age of 21.
Likewise we saw these qualities in our recent GESS National Day celebrations that were concluded on 8 Aug.
Many Gessians had an enjoyable time witnessing the parade by our UG, the plethora of performances by the school Performing Arts, our teachers and school leaders; all this was possible because many Gessians spent many hours of hard work during the NDP rehearsals, putting in substantial effort to prepare for this event through the marching drills, dance, singing, band performance and drama practices to hone their craft to perfection. The recovery actions by our Info Comm epitomised the quality of resilience in that they tried their very best to keep the performance going, despite setbacks encountered in the amplifier speaker systems during the performance segment.
Likewise, the recently concluded GCE NT & NA Level Mother Tongue Oral Exam, and the D&T and FCE coursework for O level, is proof of the hard work and commitment of many teachers and students despite facing setbacks, as these exams affirm the students’ proficiency in the subject.
Finally , I would like to encourage you fellow Gessians to emulate and develop these attributes of perseverance, hard work and resilience. These values, will be part of the critical success factors Singaporeans need, to elevate Singapore to a higher plane in the next 50 years, as we celebrate our 51st birthday.