A New Year is always an exciting time. We often use it as a chance to re-appraise our lives and to take the courageous decision to change the things that are not working so well. This morning I had the pleasure of leading my first assembly for the whole school. I spoke with the children and staff about New Year’s resolutions. We all make them and, if you believe what is written in the newspapers, they are almost universally broken come the end of the first week in January. And it’s not surprising, having read a recent survey in a national newspaper which produced a list of the top 50 resolutions. It came as no shock to me to find ‘exercising more’ and ‘eating less’ at the top of the list, after all, it helps us to achieve number 14 on the list…you guessed it, ‘to have a body like Beyoncé’! Happily though, within the top ten were a number of, I hope, more achievable, more positive and certainly more inspiring resolutions such as ‘learning an instrument’ and ‘learning a language’.
I suspect that one of the reasons we are so cynical and disdainful of New Year’s resolutions is that we often have a deeply ingrained fear of failure. We reward and celebrate getting things right, but seldom attach much value to getting things wrong or making mistakes. Yet mistakes are what we learn from; they too have a value. The simple truth is, no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may have been one epic failure or a series of failures. The examples I gave this morning were Thomas Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or James Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. Whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams.
So I told the children this morning that I would like us to celebrate our mistakes as well as our triumphs this year. I don’t want them to be the kind of people who are scared to try something new or unfamiliar because of a fear of failing. Instead, I want them to develop the ability to resist failure and use it to lead to greater success in all they do. In a nutshell, I want them to be encouraged by Robert F Kennedy’s advice that “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”.
For the record, not a drop has passed my lips since the 31st December…
John F Gilmour