From the Principal

If You Try

I have written a few times about the work of Professor Carol Dweck.

Dweck’s work shows the power of our most basic beliefs. Whether conscious or subconscious, they strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.” Much of what we think we understand of our personality comes from our “mindset.” This both propels us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential.

Professor Dweck is a proponent of the philosophy of “Yet” – as in I can’t do this, master this or achieve this YET.

Recently, I had reason to view and consider her work from a personal point of view. If the reader might indulge me for a moment, this is what I came up with:

As principal, I get to occasionally stand with groups like our Chamber Choir or Manshed by dint of my position as principal, not talent. (Those few who have heard me “sing” quickly understand the concept of the sanctity of silence!). I am in awe of their talent and the hard work they put in to achieve what they do.

Taking parents on tours of the school I walk past our Dance Studio, aware that my level of physical rhythm is probably limited to walking down the stairs without falling over.

I show prospective families the Robotics Lab, aware that my digital competence goes not much further than “Turn it off, wait ten seconds, turn it on and call for help if that does not work.”

Every day I walk through our campus aware that I am surrounded by students with intelligence and potential beyond mine, and feel quite humbled to be the leader of our teachers who are inspirational and at the very peak of their professional craft.

I live in fear of having to open the bonnet of my car and having to do something mechanical (and my father owned a garage/motor repair business at one time).

So, what are my learnings from these musings?

Just because you are not the smartest and most talented in the room, on the field or in the test does not give you the right to give up, sit back and let others do everything. You have a responsibility to yourself and those around you to get in and give life a “go”.“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.

Raw talent is not enough to guarantee success in life.  I have seen many people with great talent squander their potential by assuming they would always come out on top without trying. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Sometimes, if you hang in there and keep plodding away, you will get the opportunity to do things that make you feel really good and make the world a better place. Don’t give up. “You can do amazing things if you have strong faith, deep desire, and just hang in there.”

In summary, I know I am not the smartest, fastest or most talented person in the world (or even in my family) but, hey, I get to be the principal of a great school like St Columba, so there must be something in this idea of hanging in there and deciding to keep at it!


Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
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