College News & Events

FROM THE PRINCIPAL – What can Caroline Chisholm teach us about leadership?

September 7, 2023

“Be strong and courageous…for…your Lord will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

On Monday, applications closed for the 2024 Prefects and Assistant Prefects. Students in Years 9 and 11 have spent a few weeks discerning whether they are willing to put themselves forward as a possible Prefect or Assistant Prefect in 2024. This is a risk; it requires both courage and a spirit of generosity.

In her book, ‘Dare to Lead’ Brene Brown explains that “The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

I congratulate each and every applicant. Regardless of the result, each of you upholds our Values of Character, Learning and Compassion. Each applicant is already a great leader and role model to members of our school community.

Kieren Perkins, who won 1500m Gold in Barcelona 1992 and then Atlanta 1996 (swimming from Lane 8!), before trying for another Gold in Sydney 2000, said: “Discipline is the decision I make to do today what most people won’t, so tomorrow I can have what most people won’t.” Discipline is the key. All successful people have the habit of doing the things that others don’t like to do. Successful people probably don’t like doing them either, but their dislike is less than the strength of their purpose. They persevere with their pain today and look forward to their pride tomorrow.

Today we celebrated Chisholm Day. Our Patron, Caroline Chisholm, is our example of a courageous, disciplined leader.

“Caroline Chisholm began her work accepting established conventions, but when she encountered the obstruction and indifference of officialdom, her attitude began to harden and she became an uncompromising radical, expounding her belief in universal suffrage, vote by ballot and payment of members. Herself a devoted wife and mother, she helped to give dignity to woman and family in a harsh colonial society. Her achievement was made possible by her idealism and courage allied to her executive ability and personal charm”.

Judith Iltis, ‘Chisholm, Caroline (1808–1877)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.

All Chisholm students can learn something from Caroline Chisholm about discipline and success. To me (and most likely to Caroline Chisholm), the ingredients of success are discipline, self-belief, and persistence. Never ever quitting. Keeping your eye on the prize. When you keep your eyes on your goal, you don’t even see the bumps and the rocks in the road. Whether you are a student leader applying for Prefect, a Year 12 student on the verge of completing your high schooling journey or one of the Year 10 students leaving tomorrow for the Pilbara Immersion, it is important to remind ourselves that success doesn’t happen overnight. Success happens one small step at a time. The Japanese call it ‘Kaizen‘ – continuous improvement. No one improves unless they go beyond what they originally thought they were capable of. We only grow if we are open to the challenge and extend ourselves.

Many of the greatest and most inspirational success stories are of individuals who faced, coped with and subsequently overcame setbacks. And just like Caroline Chisholm, you can, guided by your belief, faith and values, be brave and in your own way help to make the world a better place. We as a College community, Church and society need you to!

Mrs Belinda Pietropaolo
Deputy Principal – Wellbeing

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