HM Newsletter: 13 Aug
The surface of the windswept Midmar Dam is churning and tossing, there is snow on the nearby hills, and the rain is pelting down, soaking three figures that are standing at the water's edge debating through chattering teeth if they should launch their scull. There is a sense of insanity bordering on psychosis pervading this scene as one looks on in disbelief that they are actually contemplating a rowing session in such atrocious weather conditions.
This sight fuels one's, belief that all rowers the world over, given the rigid training regime of kettle bells, ergo machines and endless lengths of rowing at the ungodly hour of 5.00am, are obsessed beyond reason and understanding!
Sanity somehow prevails and the shivering trio stumbles back to the shed to seek shelter from the bitter cold. There is a sense of disappointment as they don tracksuits, but the mood improves as they discuss arrangements for their departure for Johannesburg and then onto Bulgaria for the World Rowing Championships. Coach Ernie Steenkamp, Kyle Schoonbee and Matthew Gearing will receive their Springbok blazers in the City of Gold and then fly out to join the world elite of rowing to test their skills, fitness and endurance over a two week championship period.
Their preparation behind the scenes has been intense and they are in Spartan-like shape for what is going to be a monumental test of character and mental fortitude. We believe they have the talent to be seen smiling on the medal rostrum during the next two weeks.
Given the want of teenagers to sleep until noon, it is a minor miracle that at 8.00 am the "bleary-eyed brigade" duly arrives in dribs and drabs for tutor's period, unceremoniously plonking themselves on cold seats and staring impassively at two posters on display in the front of the classroom. The second of many miracles unfolds as the grey matter splutters to life as the staff member outlines the meaning and behaviours associated with the posters.
The posters are the first in a series of the habits of highly successful people which have been molded into a programme referred to as "The Habits of Mind". These are learned behaviours that will aid and improve not only learning capacity, but attitude and approach to life. The first of the posters is "Persisting" (Stick to it! Persevering in task through to completion. Remaining focused. Looking for ways to reach your goal when stuck. Not giving up.)
The second poster is "Thinking about your thinking" (Being aware of your own thoughts, strategies, feelings and actions and their effects on others.) The emphasis in the weeks ahead is to constantly apply this in our daily lives and to make it a habit. In the words of Aristotle: 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.' Given our vision of being "A Residential Educational Centre of Excellence", perhaps we need to tweak "Habits of Mind" to "Habits of Excellence"?
Habits of excellence is what got our rowers to Bulgaria and they are key foundations for excellence in any area of activity at Hilton College, particularly in the classroom as we head for the end-of-year examinations.
Keep an eye on our website over the next few weeks as these habits are revealed. They support our core institutional values and will resonate strongly with your perceptions of what you expect of Hilton College.
Have a great week and after the Olympics change channels to the World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria to watch Kyle, Matt and Ernie in action!