Setting Goals: Look, Listen, and Learn

Setting Goals: Look, Listen, and Learn

August 25, 2017

Last week, we commenced our school year with a series of celebrations to mark the end of summer vacation and the resumption of formal classes. Among the messages of welcome and best wishes for academic success over the next year, we also took time to think about setting goals, both academic and personal, for the year. The very personal and individual nature of goal setting was noted.

The students and faculty of Secondary School were given the rare opportunity of being addressed by two ISF valedictorians: Ms. Jin Chow (2013) and Mr. Matthew Lu (2016) both shared inspirational insights from their respective journeys since leaving ISF. Two central themes emerged from these emotionally-charged and thought-provoking addresses: inspiration hiding in plain sight, and the power of attentive and open-minded listening.

We heard of the surprising and unexpected inspiration and motivation that we can draw from those around us who lead apparently ordinary lives of committed service, often with hidden areas of excellence and passion. We heard about Ms. Chow’s experience at Princeton University where she learned that we can only discover the depths of another’s soul if we take the time to stop and genuinely engage with the many people who interact with us on a regular basis. Ms. Chow, who encountered a budding author working as a café barista, challenged us to open our eyes and minds to those around us. People we might not otherwise notice may surprise us with the unexpected and inspirational, hiding in plain sight.

Mr. Lu shared with us his own experiential expedition to the ends of the earth, where he encountered some remarkable individuals who had made courageous personal decisions to reject superficial success to pursue their passions. He was inspired by the selflessness and dedication of these fellow expeditioners who led through quiet service rather than overt directive. He was also surprised by those who listened with an open heart to gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of others.

These two compelling messages form a powerful framework to inform our direction-setting at the start of another year. Listening with an open heart, discerning with an open mind: if we gain nothing else this year, it will be time well spent.

I wish each member of our learning community every success for the challenges that lie ahead this year.

Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School

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