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Following on from Mrs Pearson’s excellent chapel talk last week where she talked about success and failure, it got me thinking about the qualities one needs to overcome a setback – a failure in a test; a poor half term or end of term attainment grade. To me the quality that immediately springs to mind is perseverance.

School life is no different from real life: in order to succeed in the classroom, on the games field, or in music and drama we will all need, at some point, to show perseverance. Someone once said that perseverance is not a long race but many short races one after another. And that is how life is: attack each challenge one step at a time.

And what of achievement? Well, as I have said before, success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which have been overcome while trying to succeed.

In another excellent chapel address last week, Prof Ted Evans, of Gideons International, made reference to Abraham Lincoln’s bible being used at the inauguration of President Barrack Obama’s second term as President of the United States. Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie , “Lincoln” was released in the UK last Friday. I have not yet seen it or read any reviews; therefore, I do not know how faithful the film will be to Abraham Lincoln’s life. However, as well as being a lawyer from Illinois, just like Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to the notion of perseverance. A Potted history of Abraham Lincoln’s career reads as follows:

  • Failed in business in 1831
  • Defeated for legislature in 1832
  • Second failure in business 1833
  • Suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836
  • Defeated for Speaker 1838
  • Defeated for Elector 1840
  • Defeated for Congress 1843 and again in 1848
  • Defeated for Senate 1855
  • Defeated for Vice-President 1856
  • Defeated for Senate 1858
  • Elected President 1860

Let this be a lesson to us all – perseverance is not a long race but many short races one after another.

The Royal Hospital School is a co-educational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 years olds set in 200 acres of Suffolk countryside overlooking the River Stour. http://www.royalhospitalschool.org