TIGS cheers as Emma McKeon makes Olympic history.
August 6, 2021
Along with the rest of the nation our TIGS family has been glued to the television screen watching the Olympics. It is fair to say that our focus has been on our own alumna Emma McKeon (class of 2012). I am certain that if it is news to some families that Emma is a TIGS K – Year 12 graduate, you will certainly all be aware of her record breaking achievements at the Tokyo Games.
Emma and her older brother David and Jarrod Poort, all TIGS alumni, represented Australia at the Rio Games in 2016. And we were very excited to welcome all three athletes back on campus after the Games for a celebration and demonstration of how excited and proud our students are of these amazing role models.
In Tokyo, Emma reaped the rewards of years of persistence, dedication and effort; hours and hours of early morning training sessions and thousands of personal decisions and sacrifices that were all aimed at being at her absolute peak for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Emma’s grit and determination paid off to our absolute delight. There is much that our students and indeed our entire community can reflect on in her example.
Success looks easy but it is usually a lot of hard work when no one is looking. Isn’t this something that we know to be true and obvious but also that we forget when something is difficult or we don’t succeed on the first attempt. This is the value of grit, that stubborn determination to persist even when we fail.
Is it possible to develop grit? And if so, how? My firm belief is that young people as well as adults can develop improved capacity for grit. It occurs when we do things outside our comfort zone and when we intentionally seek improvement rather than success. It also comes when we seek to learn from mistakes or “failures” rather than hide from them, or worse, ignore them. Grit is encouraged by parents and teachers by valuing effort and progress rather than only the outcome.
Progress is incremental. Yes, breakthroughs are possible, but progress is more frequently marked by small improvements over time. These occur because we have persisted, sought feedback, reflected, possibly failed and made some changes and kept going. The target is growth, not gold (at least not gold at first!) Learning and growth is encouraged by affirmation and acknowledgement of effort but also by celebrating the small progress points that can be observed. Being able to reflect honestly and to seek and accept feedback is also extremely helpful for growth. A growth mindset looks for opportunities in each situation and we value and explicitly teach and affirm behaviours and character traits that position our learners and staff towards growth.
Humility and grace are impressive. All over the media I am hearing about not only Emma’s amazing swimming talent but about her impressive character. She speaks well to the media, she comes across as humble, considered and thoughtful. She portrays composure and confidence, she is obviously a team player. This tells me that character is as important if not more important than achievements. Our character is on display when we achieve as well as when we fail and everything in between. Emma has certainly shown our TIGS values in action and what a delight it has been to observe this.
In the last newsletter Rev Rogers quoted American Psychologist Martin Seligman who “identified ‘accomplishment’ or ‘achievement’ as being necessary aspects of wellbeing. As we bring to realisation our plans, we experience a whole range of positive emotions including satisfaction, delight, even joy.” I hope Emma is experiencing all of these emotions as we are for her. I also hope that each of us may be just a little inspired by her grit, effort, grace and humility and seek to add more of each quality into our own lives. We will, all of us, benefit by doing so.
Imagine if we could look at the Lockdown in Term 3 with the satisfaction that Rev Rogers has when he looks at his newly cemented driveway or the joy that Emma has when she recalls her Tokyo triumph. Both required hard work, preparation and effort, both were opportunities to grow and succeed and both were worth it.
I am delighted to be back at School after my long service leave. I certainly miss the face-to-face interaction that is just so central to our TIGS community, however I am watching the online learning and wellbeing interactions occurring and am so pleased with our students. Our teachers are working hard to ensure that our learners have every opportunity to progress, grow and succeed and I know that parents and other carers are also juggling many competing demands to support our children. Thank you to each of you, please also care for yourselves and each other as we navigate this tricky time.