How do we go about finding our passion? Do we start with tiny steps of exploration, encouragement and early success? Or are our passions created through focused attention, perseverance, and earned recognition? I think finding our passion involves both. On June 9th, I had the privilege of attending Maggie Music’s year end celebration of the St. Margaret’s girls’ musical accomplishments over the course of this school year. It was apparent that we have many budding and accomplished musicians.
For some of our youngest students, performing for the first time in front a large, albeit supportive, audience filled with parents, family members, and other nervous first-timers, this was a momentous event. For example, it was such a thrill to see Anabella’s delight when SHE received a round of applause.
And then there was another girl who out of nervousness forgot to play her second piece who later in the recital, had the courage to ask if she could perform again! It is apparent to me that with lots of encouragement and practice combined with a sense of accomplishment, that we plant the seeds for our girls to begin their “passion journey.”
Finding your passion is more about ongoing exploration and perseverance and ultimately less about inherited ability, or luck. Our goal should be to help our girls find the things they love to do and, along the way, help them create opportunities to increase their proficiency and expertise. As stated by Daniel Coyle in his book entitled The Little Book of Talent:
“Work on embracing repetition, cultivating grit, learning from mistakes and
maximizing ‘reachfulness’ – leaning forward, stretching and improving.”
It is imperative that we celebrate the effort in trying to achieve a goal viewing the experience of accomplishment as a journey rather than a defining moment in time.
Expressing your talents as part of who you are as a person every day, in every interaction, in every moment, are the founding principles of our Program of Distinction (PoD) that was introduced last year at SMS. This year, we had eight of our Grade 12 students demonstrate their personal growth, expertise, and their particular passion that integrates their lives both inside and outside the classroom. Once again, the group of educators who participated in the presentations were impressed by the girls’ deep understanding of who they are, where they want to go, and how their pursuit of excellence in their chosen activity has helped them grow as individuals. Their ability to align their projects with the guiding principles and values embedded in our Strategic Plan was also a joy to hear and see. Below is just a sample of the reflections the girls shared with us:
Alexa PoD presented: Athletics (Swimming)
“Whenever there are hard times or I have a bad race, I have learned that I need to stop and put things into perspective. I think: I am lucky to be able to swim at this meet, or I made it into the finals.”
Kajol PoD presented: Performing Arts (Dance)
“I am passionate about dance because it is a huge part of my culture and through dance, I can connect with my elders and be part of the group as we tell and interpret stories.”
Minna PoD presented: Service (Animals and Landscape)
“I don’t think there is another school where they would let a student like me, who is not trained, design the garden area and turn it into an actual project rather than a mere design. This opportunity has confirmed to me that my career goal is clear – to become a landscape architect.”
Hilda PoD presented: Music
“A challenge for me was my bottleneck period, when I was tired of playing the piano. Perseverance is key to being a good leader, also one has to show one’s heart; leaders have to be role models and find the goal that everyone wants to work toward together… without that one will experience failure.”
Kaesha PoD presented: Fine Arts (Costuming)
“Through this experience of creating costumes for the SMS productions over the past three years and my working experience at the Smoking Lily, I gained an interest in a completely new field and understand how it works to sew for profit or sew for a client in the theatre.”
Jelly PoD presented: Fine Arts
“Leadership and art are connected in my opinion; as a leader you need creativity and curiosity; in art you need to come up with questions and then solve them through your art; so both require the same kind of mind; leadership in art is my life-long hobby.”
Lynn PoD presented: Music
“I need a lot of courage to find my own path… and even now it is challenging to find a way to make my parents happy and to make me happy as well, but I am getting better at it, and getting better at listening. Here at SMS, I was encouraged to follow my dreams, and those dreams are about music. My friends here pushed me to follow my dreams.”
Rachel Pod presented: Athletics (Martial Arts)
“The idea of the beginner’s mind is so important: it means never thinking you know more than another person (even if you have a higher belt than that person does, because even a person with a lower belt can teach you something.)”
For those of us who had the privilege of mentoring these young women or hearing their stories, it was joyful and inspiring to listen to the students’ voices and experiences, and to celebrate their learning journey in finding and living their passions. We need to be reminded that cultivating passion (which starts with our earliest learners) is more important than just honing talents! A special thank you goes out to all of those individuals who in some way have contributed to the success stories – which at St. Margaret’s happen every single day!
The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle, 2012
Listen to the PoD podcast on the SMS blog (Spirit Magazine, Spring 2015)