Foundation Day Address 2019

The address provided by Mr Colin Whelan of the Class of 1969

The Address Original Copy is reproduced  as provided and unedited.

Photos: Paul Harapin

Mr Colin Whelan with the 2020 Prefect Cohort

 

 

Yeah I know, you’ve all been itching to get back here all holidays to sit in the great hall and listen to an old fart tell you how to live your lives, right!

TERM 4 CAN ONLY GET BETTER!!!!!

BEFORE I START IN THESE NANNY STATE DAYS I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE FOLLOWING IS PG RATED.

(SHOW PG SIGN)

YOU CAN RELAX, IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF ANY NUDITY, IT’S BECAUSE THERE JUST MAY BE SOME ADULT THEMES.

ADULT THEMES! MY GOD IF YOU YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOT HAVING DISCUSSIONS INVOLVING ADULT THEMES FOR AT LEAST 70 PER CENT OF YOUR WAKING HOURS, MAYBE YOU SHOULD GO BACK TO SLEEP!!!!

HELLO!

ONE SCHOOL DAY 50 YEARS AND ALMOST 3 MONTHS AGO, RIGHT WHERE I’M STANDING PRETTY MUCH WAS A SMALL BLACK AND WHITE TELEVISION AND ALL THE SCHOOL WAS SITTING DOWN IN THE BODY OF THIS GREAT HALL. THE ENTIRE SCHOOL WATCHED THE FIRST LANDING ON THE MOON RIGHT IN THIS PLACE AND IT REMAINS ONE OF THE INDELIBLE MEMORIES FOR ALL WHO WERE HERE.

THAT SEEMS LIKE AGES AGO.

MORE THAN A LIFETIME FOR SOME OF OUR BELOVED CLASS MATES AND FOR MOST OF OUR TEACHERS AND STAFF.

THIRTY-ONE YEARS LATER ALL MY COHORT ENJOYED AN EVENT IN THIS CITY WHICH THEY’LL ALSO ALWAYS REMEMBER, THE SYDNEY OLYMPICS.

THOSE GAMES SEEM LIKE JUST YESTERDAY.

SO, IT SEEMS KINDA SURREAL TO BE STANDING IN THE SAME SPOT AS THAT OLD TELEVISION WITH ITS RABBIT EAR ANTENNA TALKING WITH AN ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL OF STUDENTS NONE OF WHOM WAS EVEN ALIVE DURING THOSE SYDNEY GAMES.

I WAS ASKED TO DO THIS BECAUSE I WAS THE CHIEF ORGANISER OF A REUNION OVER THE WEEKEND OF WHAT’S KNOWN AS THE CLASS OF 69, MOST OF WHOM LEFT THIS PLACE THAT YEAR.

I WISH TO RECOGNISE ALL THE PEOPLE HERE TODAY WHO ARE STUDENTS OF THE SCHOOL.

I HOPE THAT YOUR TIME HERE IS AS, ER, MEMORABLE AS WERE MINE.

I WANT TO RECOGNISE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THEIR PARENTS. I HOPE THAT YOU USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE SCHOOL. EVERY THREAD ADDS TO THE TAPESTRY.

I WANT TO RECOGNISE ALL THE STAFF, NOT JUST THE ACADEMIC STAFF BUT THE CANTEEN STAFF, THE GROUND STAFF AND THE CARETAKER IF THEY ARE PRESENT.

I WANT TO RECOGNISE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OLD BOYS OF THE SCHOOL, EXPECIALLY THOSE WHO LEFT THIS PLACE 50 YEARS AGO.

AND IF YOU WILL ALLOW ME SOME SELF INDULGENCE I WANT TO RECOGNISE A PERSON WHO WAS LAST IN THIS GREAT HALL 55 YEARS AGO AND LAST AT THIS SCHOOL 50 YEARS AGO UNDER VERY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES.

THAT PERSON IS MY MOTHER.

AND SHORTLY YOU ALL WILL UNDERSTAND THE HUGE IRONY BORDERING ON DISBELIEF THAT MUM IS FEELING IN SEEING ME STAND HERE AND TALK WITH YOU.

GOOD MORNING, MY NAME IS COLIN WHELAN AND ALLEGEDLY I ATTENDED THIS SCHOOL BETWEEN 1964 AND 1969 AND I’VE BEEN ASKED TO SPEAK TODAY ABOUT LEADERSHIP, WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISNT, AND THE TRADITIONS OF SYDNEY BOYS HIGH.

I’M GOING TO NEED A BIT OF ASSISTANCE ALONG THE WAY.

WHERE’S ROWER Alan Jessup?

SO, ALAN, YOU ROWED IN THE 8 THIS YEAR AND ARE PROBABLY BACK AGAIN NEXT YEAR EH?

WHAT POSITION THIS YEAR?

ARE YOU LEFT-LANDED OR RIGHT-HANDED?

OKAY, SO AS A ROWER YOU SHOULD HAVE PRETTY REASONABLE BALANCE.

I WANT YOU TO IMAGINE A CEILING BEAM, LETS MAKE IT A DOUBLE CEALING BEAM ABOUT 15CMS ACROSS AND 3O CMS BROAD AND 5 METRES LONG ON ITS EDGE ON THE FLOOR.

RECKON YOU COULD WALK ALONG IT?

OF COURSE, YOU COULD!

NOW LET’S MAKE THE BEAM TOO NARROW FOR YOU TO WALK ALONG NORMALLY AND RATHER YOU CRAB ALONG IT SIDEWAYS.

SHOW ME HOW YOU’D DO THAT. SEE ALAN IS CRABBING TO HIS LEFT.

NOW LET ME JUST DIGRESS FOR A SHORT BIT AND GO BACK TO THE MOON LANDING. THERE’S THAT REGULAR TRIVIA QUESTION:

WHICH FOOT DID ARMSTRONG FIRST PUT ON THE MOON?

WELL THE ANSWER’S THE LEFT FOOT. OF COURSE, IT’S THE LEFT FOOT!

WHY? BECAUSE HE WAS RIGHT-HANDED! RIGHT-HANDED PEOPLE ALWAYS LEAD WITH THEIR LEFT FOOT. THE OLD CHESTNUT, “PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD” IS RUBBISH!

EVERYONE, EVERYONE ANCHORS WITH THEIR BEST FOOT AND PUTS THEIR OTHER FOOT FORWARD. THAT’S WHY SURFERS LEAD WITH THEIR LEFT FOOT MOSTLY,

WHERE’S JORDAN WHITTAKER? JORDAN I HEAR YOU’RE A GOOD SURFER AND SKATEBOARDER.

ARE YOU RIGHT OR LEFT-HANDED?

WHICH FOOT DO YOU LEAD WITH ON THE SURF BOARDS?

SEE, BOTH ALAN AND JORDAN ARE RIGHT-HANDED, AND RIGHT FOOTED BUT THEY NEVER LEAD WITH THEIR RIGHT FOOT, NO-ONE DOES!

NO-ONE GOES AROUND PUTTING OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD!

THAT’S WHY SOLDIERS ALWAYS BEGIN MARCHING WITH THEIR LEFT FOOT.

AND THAT’S WHY ALAN IS GOING TO START ON THE PLANK WITH HIS LEFT FOOT.

LEADERS KNOW THAT PEOPLE WHEN FACED WITH A NEW TASK WILL NEVER PUT THEIR BEST FOOT FORWARD, THEY’LL PUT THEIR OTHER FOOT FORWARD AND ONLY WHEN ITS SAFE WILL THEY BRING THEIR BEST FOOT INTO PLAY!

THAT’S UNLESS THEIR LEADER GIVES THEM THE ASSURANCE, BECOMES THEIR SURE FOOT, GROUNDS THEM, ACTS AS THEIR FOUNDATION AND AS THEIR SPRINGBOARD AND ALLOWS THEM TO RISK THEIR BEST FOOT.

SORRY, BACK TO THE PLANK.

SO ALAN:

NOW WE’RE GOING TO LIFT THAT BEAM UP TO ABOUT 5 METRES OFF THE FLOOR HERE IN THE HALL AND SECURE IT SO THAT IT’S ABSOLUTELY SOLID. STICK A LADDER AT EACH END.

YOU STILL GOING TO WALK IT NO PROBLEM?

OKAY SO NOW WE’RE GOING TO TAKE IT OUTSIDE AND CONNECT IT OVER THE QUAD SO IT’S ABOUT 15 METRES OFF THE GROUND AND I WANT YOU TO DO IT THE DAY BEFORE THE HEAD OF THE RIVER.

YOU GOING TO HAVE A GO?

WHY NOT?  IT’S THE SAME TASK, THE VERY SAME CHALLENGE! YOU JUST HAVE TO WALK THE SAME WALK.

IT’S BECAUSE WHEN IT WAS ON THE FLOOR ALL YOU CONCENTRATED ON WAS THE JOB AT HAND. YOUR FOCUS WAS ON JUST WALKING ALONG THE BEAM.

OUT IN THE QUAD YOU’VE CHANGED YOUR FOCUS TO THE COST OF FAILURE AND BECAUSE YOU’RE CONCENTRATING ON FAILURE, YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL.

LEADERS REMOVE THAT FEAR OF FAILURE AND REPLACE IT WITH FOCUS ON TASK. THEY INSTIL IN PEOPLE A MINDSET THAT THE BEAM IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS ON THE FLOOR AND IF YOU DO HAPPEN TO FALL OFF, YOU CAN JUST JUMP BACK ON!

AND IMPORTANTLY THERE’S TWO SORTS OF LEADERS, THOSE WHO STAND BACK AND YELL, “CHARGE!” AND THOSE WHO BECKON OTHERS TO FOLLOW, AND SHOUT, LET’S GO, LET’S DO THIS.

DON’T BE THE FIRST TYPE, AND DON’T EVER FOLLOW THEM.

BUT LET’S STAY WITH ROWING BUT SEGWAY JUST A LITTLE.

I SAID AT THE START THAT I ALLEGEDLY ATTENDED THIS SCHOOL IN THE 60’S AND I SAID THAT FOR A REASON.

THE REASON IS THE CAUSE OF MY MOTHERS SENSE OF IRONY AND DISBELIEF THAT I’M DOING THIS RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE.

IN 1969 I BECAME FROM WHAT I CAN DISCOVER THE FIRST PREFECT IN THE HISTORY OF SYDNEY BOYS HIGH SCHOOL AND INDEED STILL THE ONLY PREFECT IN THE SCHOOLS HISTORY

(PAUSE)

………………………………..TO BE EXPELLED.

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE’S NO HONOUR BOARD UP THERE FOR THIS UNIQUE ACHIEVEMENT!

I WASN’T JUST EXPELLED FROM THE SCHOOL, I WAS EXPELLED FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. I WAS FORBIDDEN TO SET FOOT IN ANY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION BUILDING, OFFICE OR GROUNDS. I WAS ORDERED TO RETURN MY TEXT BOOKS OVER THE FENCE ON ANZAC PDE TO A TEACHER AT AN AGREED TIME.

MY OFFENCE WAS MAINLY BASED ON MY OPPOSITION TO THE VIETNAM WAR AND MY REFUSAL TO STOP PROTESTING IT WITHIN SCHOOL GROUNDS.

(HOLD UP VIETNAM POSTERS)

(AND I BOUND TO SAY THAT I AM AMAZED THAT WE ARE STILL HAVING A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER ITS OKAY FOR SCHOOL STUDENTS TO TAKE PART IN POLITICAL DEMOSTRATIONS.

WE WERE TRYING TO SAVE A COUNTRY, YOU’RE TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD!!!!)

Mr Whelan Prepares to commence his Address

ANYWAY, I HAD TO FINISH MY STUDIES AT HOME AND I DID THE FINAL EXAM OVER AT THE OLD SHOWGROUNDS. MY RESULTS WERE MARKED AS ‘UNQUALIFIED TO RECEIVE HSC’.

(SHOW CERTIFICATE)

NOW THAT WAS ALL PART OF THE FUN, BUT THEN IN 2001 SYDNEY BOYS HIGH RE-PUBLISHED ITS CENTENARY CELEBRATION HISTORY. A MATE FROM HIGH, WHO’S DOWN HERE IN THE FRONT ROW TODAY, BOUGHT ME A COPY FOR MY 50TH BIRTHDAY.

IT CONTAINED A COMPREHENSIVE LIST GROUP OF RARE ACHIEVEMENTS. IN THE ROWING SECTION WAS PARAGRAPH RECOGNISING THE FOUR ROWERS WHO’D ACHIEVED THE FEAT OF ROWING IN THE SENIOR 8 FOR 3 YEARS.

I WENT TO THE WARDROBE AND GOT OUT MY BLAZER TO CHECK IF THERE WAS A STRIP FOR SENIOR 8 1967?  YES

AND ONE FOR 1968? YES

AND ONE ON THE OTHER SIDE FOR 1969? YES

I’D BEEN SCRUBBED, EXPUNGED FROM THE HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL NOW THAT, I THOUGHT WAS PETTY! I HAD A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF THE ESTEEMED OLD BOY WHO WAS BEHIND IT AND I HOPE IT GAVE HIM JOY.

BUT GOING BACK TO ROWING, IN MY FIRST TWO YEARS THE 8 WAS COACHED BY AN EXTRAORDINARY OLD BOY, DOC ERIC LONGLEY, PROBABLY THE FIRST PERSON I EVER MET WHO WAS TOTALLY OBSESSED WITH WINNING SOMETHING. DOC WAS A PERSON WHO WAS A LEADER, A PERSON FOR WHOM WE GAVE IT ALL AND FOR WHOM, WHEN WE FELL SHORT, OUR HEARTS BROKE FOR HIM MORE THAN FOR OURSELVES.

IN 1969 A NEW COACH TOOK OVER, NORM GROUNDS. AS THE EARLY SEASON WORE ON TWO BOYS WERE FIGHTING OVER THE FINAL SEAT, THE TWO SEAT. GAVIN BARR WHO WENT ON TO BE A LEADING GASTRO-ENTEROLOGIST AND BILL RUSSO WHO WENT ON TO DO WONDERFUL WORK AT THE ABC.

THEY WERE SWITCHED AND SWAPPED, SWITCHED AND SWAPPED. THE 8 WOULD ROW WITH A FOUR AND WE’D STOP MID RIVER AND THEY’D CHANGE BOATS.

ONE AFTERNOON NORM GROUNDS TOLD THE TWO BOATS TO DO SOME SPRINTS IN NESTLES BAY, WHEN IT WAS STILL PRONOUNCED NESTLES. HE TOLD US HE HAD SOMEWHERE HE NEEDED TO GO.

WE DID THE SPRINTS AND THEN HEADED BACK TO THE SHEDS. OUR COX DAVE PALING WENT UP THE PONTOON TO GET THE HOSE AND TOOK A BIT LONGER THAN USUAL AND WHEN HE CAME BACK HE SAID WE SHOULD GO AND HAVE A LOOK AT THE BLACKBOARD ON THE SHED WALL.

ON IT WAS A LIST TITLED: SENIOR 8 1969, FINAL SELECTIONS.

BILL RUSSO WAS IN THE TWO SEAT, GAVIN’S NAME WAS MISSING. NORM GROUNDS HAD WRITTEN IT AND THEN GONE OFF TO HIDE.

THAT’S NOT LEADERSHIP!!!!!  THAT’S WEASEL!

IF I HAD GRADUATED FROM THIS PLACE 17 YEARS AFTER I LEFT SCHOOL, IF I’D STUDIED SCIENCE HERE FOR 6 YEARS AND THEN DID A BSC, YES, A BATCHELOR OF SCIENCE AT UNI

AND YET DESPITE STUDYING SCIENCE FOR DECADE I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN, FORGET NOT BELIEVING IN CLIMATE CHANGE, IF I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN THE SCIENCE OF EVOLUTION!

IF I BELIEVED INSTEAD THAT THE WORLD WAS CREATED 6,000 YEARS AGO IN A VERY BUSY WEEK FOR GOD

AND

IF I LOVED THIS STUFF SO MUCH

(HOLD UP LUMP OF COAL)

THAT I TOOK SOME OF IT INTO PARLIAMENT,

IF I THOUGHT IT WAS OKAY TO PUT MY ARM AROUND MY LEADER AND SAY I WAS LOYAL TO HIM AND THEN RUSH BACK TO MY OFFICE TO PLOT A COUP

IF I WAS THAT SORT OF GUY I WOULD THINK THIS BEHAVIOUR IS LEADERSHIP BUT IT ISN’T!!!!

REAL LEADERS DON’T WRITE DIFFICULT CHOICES ON BLACKBOARDS AND RUN AWAY.. LEADERS FIRST ISOLATE THE PERSON WHO’S NOT BEEN SUCCESSFUL AND LET THEM KNOW, FACE TO FACE OF THE DECISION AND EXPLAIN THE REASON WHY. ONLY THEN DO THEY TELL THE SUCCESSFUL PERSON.

I LOST ALL MY RESPECT FOR THE COACH

LOST RESPECT FOR HIM AS A PERSON THAT DAY

AND LOOKING BACK I KNOW I NEVER ROWED PAST 95% FOR HIM, I JUST COULDN’T BUST MY GUTS FOR A PERSON WITH NO SPINE. WHEN I WAS ORGANISING THE REUNION, I MENTIONED TO GAVIN THAT I’D BE MENTIONING THIS IN THIS SPEECH AND HE WAS AMAZED I REMEMBERED. I TOLD HIM THAT LESSON WAS AS FRESH AS YESTERDAY.

IT’S SO OFTEN THESE LITTLE THINGS THAT STICK AND LEADERS ARE AWARE OF THE POWER OF THE MINUTE, THE OFF THE CUFF, THE CASUAL REMARK THAT CAN MAKE OR BREAK.

I ONCE READ A BOOK CALLED ON THE ROAD BY JACK KEROUAC. IT’S ABOUT HITCH-HIKING AND HANGING OUT ACROSS AMERICA AND I THOUGHT, WOW, THAT’S A DECENT LIFESTYLE SO I THOUGHT I’D GIVE IT A GO AND HITCHHIKE TO MELBOURNE. I FIGURED IT’D TAKE ME FOUR DAYS THERE AND BACK. IN 9 HOURS, I WAS ALREADY IN ALBURY SO I TURNED WEST TO MILDURA THEN BACK TO MELBOURNE AND UP THE COAST ROAD TO SYDNEY AND MADE IT STILL WITHIN THE FOUR DAYS. WHEN I GOT BACK AND TOLD MY MATES ONE OF THEM CALLED ME A LIAR, SAID I WAS MAKING IT UP. I WAS OFFENDED BY THIS SO I BET HIM THAT I COULD HITCHHIKE TO PERTH AND BACK IN 12 DAYS.

ONE THURSDAY I WENT OUT ON THE GREAT WESTERN HIGHWAY AT PARRAMATTA AND STUCK MY FINGER OUT. I MADE IT TO PERTH AND BACK WITH 7 HOURS TO SPARE. I STILL HAVE MY NOTES OF EACH RIDE ON THE TRIP.  WHEN I WAS IN PERTH I SENT MY MATE A POSTCARD TO PROVE I WAS THERE BUT HE STILL DIDN’T BELIEVE ME.

NOW HERE’S THE KICKER TO THAT STORY. THE TRIP WAS IN JUNE. TWO WEEKS AFTER I GOT BACK, ON THE 7TH OF JULY, I CELEBRATED MY BIRTHDAY. I TURNED 14 AND I WAS STILL IN FIRST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL. SO, IF ANY OF YOU YEAR SEVENS OR EIGHTS WANT TIPS ON HITCHHIKING TO PERTH AND BACK, GRAB ME AFTER ASSEMBLY!!!

THAT TRIP INSTILLED IN ME A GREAT LOVE FOR TRAVEL AND WHEN I FINISHED UNI I HITCHED THROUGH EUROPE AND DOWN THROUGH TURKEY, IRAN, IRAQ, LEBANON AND SYRIA AND I ENDED UP ON A KIBBUTZ IN ISRAEL FOR ALMOST 2 YEARS.  AND IT WAS VERY MUCH THE RESULT OF WARWICK NOSWORTHY, WHO’S HERE TODAY AND WHO DOESN’T REMEMBER MAKING THE COMMENT.

LEADERS ARE AWARE OF THE POWER OF LITTLE THINGS LIKE THAT!

NOW I WANT TO GET ONTO SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS THAT’S CONNECTED WITH LEADERSHIP AND THAT’S BULLYING.

WHEN I WAS AT HIGH THERE WAS A TOTALLY RAMPANT BULLYING CULTURE. BIG KIDS BULLIED SMALL KIDS, TEACHERS BULLIED STUDENTS, STUDENTS BULLIED TRANEEE TEACHERS AND TEACHERS BULLIED OTHER TEACHERS. I SAID EARLIER THAT IT’S 55 YEARS SINCE MY MUM WAS IN THIS GREAT HALL.

AT THE END OF FIRST YEAR WE HAD SPEECH DAY AND I WAS A PRIZE WINNER. PRIZE WINNERS HAD TO SIT UP THE FRONT OF THE HALL AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS, SPORTS WINNERS ON THE RIGHT AND ACADEMIC WINNERS ON THE LEFT. I LEFT MY PARENTS UP THE BACK AND A PREFECT ELECT WHO WAS A BREAKAWAY FOR FIRST GRADE, POINTED TO WHERE I HAD TO GO AND I SAID NO I’M OVER THERE

NO YOU’RE THERE

NO I’M THERE

NO YOU’RE THERE

NOT I’M THERE

HE POINTED TO MY NAME AS THE AGE SWIMMING CHAMPION AND I SAID, YES BUT LOOK AT THE OTHER PAGE AND YOU’LL SEE I’M DUX OF THE YEAR. HE CHECKED IT OUT AND THEN TOLD ME WHERE TO SIT. AS I WALKED PAST HIM I MADE A COMMENT ALONG THE LINES OF SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE GOOD AT SPORT ALSO HAVE BRAINS.

NEXT MORNING, I WAS SUMMONSED TO THE PREFECTS’ ROOM. INSIDE WERE A FEW PREFECTS INCLUDING THE ONE FROM THE PREVIOUS EVENING AND HIS TWIN BROTHER. THEY BASICALLY BASHED ME. SLAPS TO THE FACE, PUNCHES TO THE RIBS AND TOLD ME TO LEARN MY PLACE OR THERE’D BE MORE OF IT. THE PREFECT WHO I’D ARGUED WITH AT SPEECH NIGHT WAS NAMED CHRIS, HIS TWIN BROTHER WAS PAUL. THEIR SURNAME WAS DAWSON.

THAT MIGHT RING A BELL WITH SOME OF YOU.

CHRIS DAWSON PLAYED FIRST GRADE UNION WITH RANDWICK AND THEN FIRST GRADE RUGBY LEAGUE WITH NEWTOWN. HE WAS A TOUGH MAN WHO LIVED IN THE SPORTING BUBBLE. I THINK THE PENNY HAS DROPPED FOR A FEW OF YOU.

CHRIS DAWSON IS THE SUBJECT OF THE AWARD WINNING BLOG, TEACHERS PET. CHRIS DAWSON IS CURRENTLY AWAITING TRIAL ON HAVING SEX WITH A MINOR IN CARE WHEN HE WAS A TEACHER AND IS THE PRIME SUSPECT IN THE MURDER OF HIS WIFE.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BULLIES THRIVE. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NO-ONE STANDS UP TO THEM. THIS IS THE VERY REVERSE OF LEADERSHIP THIS IS THE WEASEL TAKEN TO ITS ULTIMATE CONCLUSION.

DON’T BE THAT GUY WHO DOES THAT AND DON’T BE THE GUY WHO TOLERATES THAT.

THAT’S NOT LEADERSHIP!

AFTER SPENDING MY WORKING LIFE ENVELOPED IN THE SPORTING WORLD, I REALISED THIS SORT OF MINDSET WHICH FACILITATED BULLYING WAS BASED ON TWO FALLACIES.

THE FIRST IS WHAT I CALL THE TYRANNY OF THE SPORTING ANALOGY.

WHEN I WAS AT HIGH, SPORT WAS THE DOMINATING INFLUENCE AND ALMOST INSIDIOUSLY SPORTING CLICHÉS AND ANALOGIES WERE HELD UP AS BEING APPLICABLE TO LIFE IN GENERAL. AND THAT ONLY INCREASED AFTER SCHOOL.

YOU KNOW

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH THE TOUGH GET GOING

THE HARDER I WORK THE LUCKIER I GET

THERES NO I IN TEAM (BUT THERE IS IN WIN)

HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT DOESN’T MEET HARD WORK

WHAT RUBBISH!!!!

WHERE’S JOSH SUTO?

HOW HARD DO I HAVE TO TRAIN SO I CAN RUN 100 METRES FASTER THAN YOU CAN WITHOUT EFFORT??

IT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN?

IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW HARD I WORK, HOW TOUGH I GET, HOW MUCH I BECOME PART OF A TEAM.

IT AINT GOING TO HAPPEN!

(HOLD UP COAL IN LEFT HAND AND DIAMOND IN RIGHT HAND)

LET’S MEET SCOMO’S MATE AGAIN:

THIS IS COAL. IT’S CARBON AND THIS IS A DIAMOND AND IT’S CARBON ALSO. BUT COAL ISN’T JUST A DIAMOND THAT COULDN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE!!!  THEY’RE SEPARATE ENTITIES, NOT FAILURES OF EACH OTHER! SCOMO LOVES THIS STUFF (HOLD UP COAL) AND HIS WIFE PROBABLY LIKES THIS STUFF (HOLD UP DIAMOND)

SEE, PROBLEM IS, SPORT ISN’T LIFE. SPORT IS WHAT’S KNOWN AS A ZERO-SUM GAME. FOR EVERY WINNER THERE IS A LOSER. OR A TEAM TO WIN 23-6, THERE HAS TO BE A TEAM THAT LOSES 6-23

IF, WHERE’S ANTONIO LI?

ANTONIO PLAYS TENNIS VERY WELL I HEAR. FOR HIM TO WIN A SET 6-3, THERE HAS TO BE SOMEONE WHO LOSES 3-6. ADD THE COLUMNS TOGETHER AND YOU GET ZERO IN EACH

WELL, LIFE ISN’T LIKE THAT.

FOR ME TO BE HAPPY, I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE ANYONE ELSE UNHAPPY. FOR ME TO CONTENT I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE ANYONE ELSE DISCONTENT. FOR ME TO BE SUCCESSFUL I DON’T HAVE TO CAUSE ANYONE TO FAIL.

BUT WHEN BULLIES LIKE CHRIS DAWSON, AN EX PREFECT OF THIS SCHOOL SEE THEMSELVES NOT AS PEOPLE BUT AS TOUGH THEY CAN ONLY LIVE THEMSELVES BY DOING TOUGH THINGS OR ELSE THEY DON’T EXIST.

AND IN A ZERO SUM GAME YOU DO TOUGH STUFF BY SHOWING ANOTHER TO BE LESS TOUGH BECAUSE THAT’S HOW ZERO SUM SWORKS, AND SO YOU TAKE THEM TO THE PREFECTS ROOM AND ASSAULT THEM.

THIS IS NOT LEADERSHIP.

LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT SETTING EXAMPLES AND REALISING THAT LIFE IS COMPOSED OF PEOPLE AND IT’S NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME. LIFE MIGHT HAVE SOME ZERO-SUM GAME DISTRACTIONS BUT LEADERS KNOW THAT ZERO SUM GAMES ARE GAMES, NOTHING MORE, AND WHEN THE GAME’S FINISHED, REAL LIFE TAKES OVER AND IN REAL LIFE THE RULES ARE DIFFERENT.

THE SECOND LIE IS EVEN MORE DANGEROUS. IT’S A LIE WE ALL TELL OURSELVES ABOUT OURSELVES AND ABOUT OTHERS.

WHEN I TALK WITH PEOPLE, AND ITS NOT JUST YOUNG PEOPLE, I GET THEM TO PLAY A GAME AND I WANT TO DO THAT VERY QUICKLY WITH YOU ALL.I GET THEM TO WRITE DOWN ON A PIECE OF PAPER THE WORDS:

I AM FIVE TIMES IN AS VERTICAL LIST

THEN I ASK THEM TO FILL IN EACH LINE EITHER WITH ‘A’ AND THEN A NOUN OR JUST AN ADJECTIVE.

IF THEY’RE RUGBY LEAGUE PLAYERS I THEN EXPLAIN WHAT A NOUN AND AN ADJECTIVE ARE BUT LET’S JUST STICK TODAY WITH ONLY ONE NOUN.

I WANT YOU ALL TO COMPLETE THE SENTENCE WITH WHATEVER SEEMS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU

I AM A….

BE HONEST, NO CHEATING, JUST ONE WORD WHICH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ANSWER TO THE QUESTION. THERE’S NO CORRECT ANSWER. GOT YOUR ANSWERS?

 

OKAY, SO TODAY IS TO DO WITH PREFECTS SO STAND UP PLEASE IF YOUR ANSWER BEGINS WITH P

STAY STANDING IF THE NEXT LETTER IS E

STAY STANDING IF THE NEXT LETTER IS R

OKAY. I LIED ABOUT THERE BEING NO CORRECT ANSWER! SO EVERYONE SITTING DOWN IS WRONG! SEE, WHAT LEADERS, TRUE LEADERS KNOW IS THAT MY MUM DIDN’T GET HERE TODAY COURTESY OF AN UBER DRIVER SHE WAS DRIVEN HERE BY A PERSON WHO IS AN UBER DRIVER.

THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TO COME UP HERE ON STAGE AREN’T PERFECTS ELECT, THEY’RE PEOPLE WHO ARE ABOUT TO BE PREFECTS. DOCTOR JAGGER ISN’T A HEADMASTER, HE’S A PERSON WHO’S A HEADMASTER.

WE ARE NOT WHAT WE DO, WE ARE PEOPLE WHO DO IT!

SOUNDS TRITE MAYBE BUT IT DEADLY SERIOUS, AND I MEAN DEADLY SERIOUS. THINKING THIS LIE ABOUT OTHERS CAN BE UNHEALTHY BUT THINKING THIS LIE ABOUT OURSELVES IS JUST DANGEROUS.

(LIFT UP PG SIGN AGAIN) AND ONCE MORE THIS IS SERIOUS, THIS IS AN ADULT THEME!

BECAUSE IF I THINK OF MYSELF AS A FOOTBALL PLAYER, WHEN I STOP PLAYING FOOTBALL I CEASE TO EXIST. IF I THINK OF MYSELF AS A BREADWINNER, WHEN I GET SACKED I CEASE TO EXIST. IF I THINK OF MYSELF AS A FARMER AND THE DROUGHT DRIVES ME OFF MY LAND I CEASE TO EXIST, AND WHEN I CEASE TO EXIST I CAN MAKE SOME VERY POOR AND DANGEROUS DECISIONS. SOME DANGEROUS EXISTENTIAL DECISIONS.

WE ARE NOT WHAT WE DO! AND YET THIS IS A UBIQUITOUS DECEPTION.

TURN ON EDDY EVERYWHERE IN THE AFTERNOON AND WATCH HOTSEAT AND HE’LL GIVE THE CONTESTANT’S NAME AND THEN SAY, ‘HE’S A THIS’ ‘SHE’S A THAT’. OVER ON SBS JENNIFER BYRNE ON MASTERMIND DOES EXACTLY THE SAME.

CONTESTANT NUMBER ONE IS ANGUS MACDOUGALL A BRAIN SURGEON FROM REDFERN.

NO HE ISN’T?

NEXT TIME YOU MEET SOMEONE AND THEY ASK YOU, AND WHAT DO YOU DO? TELL THEM YOU WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET. TELL THEM THAT YOU FLY KITES ON WINDY DAYS. TELL THEM THAT YOU STAND UP FOR OLD PEOPLE ON BUSES BUT YOU DON’T STAND FOR STUPIDITY. TELL THEM THAT YOU HAVE A SLY SMOKE AT LUNCHTIME DOWN IN THE BEARPIT! TELL THEM ANYTHING BUT DON’T TELL THEM YOUR JOB!

THE WORLD CAN BE CHANGED ONE SURPRISING ANSWER AT A TIME! DON’T EVER BELIEVE THE LIE THAT YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO AND DON’T EVER BELIEVE THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE WHAT THEY DO!

 

FINALLY, WHATEVER YOU DO,

IN WORK,

IN SPORT

IN POLITICS

IN RELATIONSHIPS

IN STUDY

IN RELAXATION

WHATEVER YOU DO….. DO IT WITH PASSION!!!!!

IF YOU ARE PASSIONATE, THOSE AROUND YOU WILL BECOME PASSIONATE. PASSION IS MORE CONTAGIOUS THAN…….

HERPES

(PAUSE)

TRUST ME I KNOW!

I’VE BEEN INFECTED WITH PASSION FOR AS LONG AS I REMEMBER.

AND (PAUSE)

I’VE READ ABOUT HERPES!

I’VE WASTED WAY TOO MUCH OF YOUR TIME, AND I HAVE JUST A FINAL THING TO SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE ABOUT TO RECEIVE THEIR PREFECTS MEDALS

LET’S GO!

 

THANK YOU.

Colin Whelan regales the Prefects with more stories after his Address