Leadership Seminar 2013

Principal’s leadership seminar speech 2013

In the film The Bucket List, 2 old men Carter Chambers and Edward Cole, who have come to the stage of their lives where death is knocking on the door, befriend each other. Edward Cole then persuades Carter Chambers to accompany him on a Trip around the world to tick the boxes on their bucket list. While the 2 of them are on the site of the pyramids Carter Chambers asks Edward Cole what answers he would give to the two questions asked by the Gods at the entrance to heaven: Have you found joy in your life? And has your life brought joy to others?

I suppose that is precisely the essence of this leadership seminar. Has our lives brought joy to others. When we realize the extent of the myriad of interconnections which link us to all other life, we realize that our existence only becomes meaningful through interaction with, and in relation to, others.

Our children sang the song Lean on Me because this song captures the essence of the interconnectedness of life. The Lord Buddha used the image of two bundles of reeds leaning against each other to explain this deep interconnectedness. He described how the two bundles of reeds can remain standing as long as they lean against each other. In the same way, because this exists, that exists, and because that exists, this exists. If one of the two bundles is removed, then the other will fall. The lesson for our children is that by engaging ourselves with others, our identity is developed, established and enhanced. We then understand that it is impossible to build our own happiness on the unhappiness of others. We also see that our constructive actions affect the world around us.

The stories our children told in the opening of the programme show how once you start something it creates an impetus and will cause change elsewhere. Ultimately we will discover that when we bring joy to others it is there that we will find joy for ourselves. How important it is to teach young people this at an early age so that they will know that the deepest and greatest joy comes from serving others. Life is so much more fulfilling and rewarding, and the happiness and joy that started with us spreads.

Our task as educators is to equip our children with knowledge and skills to take them forward in life, but skills without the right values and attitudes is useless. Our responsibility is to inculcate the attitude of generosity, compassion, care and kindness in our children. Together with this we have to instil the value of hard work, perseverance, and, commitment. A healthy multi-cultural exposure to children can go a long way in eliminating religious fanaticism which is the source of so many wars in the world… An attitude of service cultivated in young minds can be a preventive approach to tackling corruption. Therefore, proper education – one that inculcates human values and honors diversity, is necessary for sustainable peace in the world.

Only a few people in the world cause terror, not the whole population. Of the seven billion people on this planet, there are hardly a few thousand who cause crime and the whole world is affected. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar the founder of the Art of Living, a humanitarian organization says:  With the same law, won’t the reverse also work? Just a few thousand of us, being really peaceful, loving and caring for the whole planet — can we not bring a transformation? One should not think, ‘what can I do?” or that one is insignificant. Everyone has a role to play when the world is in turmoil. A tiny homeopathic pill has the power to heal an 80 kg body. In the same way, every individual has an influence on this cosmos, on this planet.

When we radiate peace and good vibrations, it definitely makes an impact.  Sri Sri says, “Those of us who have been fortunate to find some peace within ourselves, now have a challenge to reach out to all those who are not at peace with themselves as well as to those countries and parts of the world where there is conflict. The knowledge of the oneness that we share with the world can bring people out of their narrow mindsets. A bigger vision of life can kindle human values, enabling one to see diversity in oneness and unity in diversity”

When we look around us it is sometimes hard to find good role models amongst the politicians and leaders of the country, so we teach our children to look for role models elsewhere. Look for leaders on the sports field, amongst writers, artists, business men and women, teachers and your parents. It is for that reason we invited Sibusiso Vilane to be our guest speaker. He is a pioneer and amidst all odds has managed to, in his own words, reach his summit. Sibusiso I thank you deeply for your wonderful and inspirational talk I do hope that you have enjoyed the evening. You are the kind of role model that our children need to look up to. I wish you well on your next expedition, and I am certain that everyone one of us in the audience will be watching out for your next adventure and success.


Amanda it has been a great experience working with you, and I thank you for accepting so spontaneously my invitation for you to adjudicate the speeches this evening. I hope that you enjoyed this evening.

At Melpark we recognize the need and importance of good leadership, hence every year we endeavour to provide the pupil leaders of our school the opportunity to experience working together as a team, meeting pupil leaders from other schools, and a platform to share some aspects of leadership. If you think that any of the children had to audition for this evening’s performance I would like to remind you that the children you saw tonight are our prefects and none of them auditioned for any particular part. They have been taken out of their comfort zones and have been made to sing, dance and speak even though this might not necessarily have been their strength. I have seen them grow through the effort they made and I am certain each of them has been enriched by the experience.

I want to thank the children tonight for their commitment to come to rehearsals, their dedication and hard work. Your enthusiasm and discipline are 2 important characteristics for success.


I want to thank the children, Principals and teachers from the visiting schools who have graced our function. Children your speeches tonight were outstanding and you have given us all some food for thought. I wish you well for the upcoming exams and your preparation to exit primary school for the next phase in your lives.

Parents I wish to thank you for the support and encouragement you have given your children. Continue to be there for them. What our children need most from us is for us to be good examples. We have to be the change we want to see in our children.

It is with immense pride and gratitude that I recognise the efforts of the staff of Melpark Primary School. They have demonstrated competence and commitment and have produced extraordinary results. Thank you to each one of you.

In the end when we tick off our own bucket list will we be able to answer with sincerity, pride and free of guilt the Question: Have we brought joy to others?