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A Blessing for Leaders

On Tuesday morning, we held the annual assembly in which we introduce our incoming Graduating Class and their leadership roles for the upcoming academic year. As I considered my words for the event, my eyes fell on a favourite poem by John O’Donohue entitled A Blessing for Leaders, a poem I have pinned to my bulletin board above my desk. This poem has hung there for many years and, like many things in day-to-day life, I had not thought about it for a long time. Yet, as I began to read it again, it resonated once more, and I took it down to share with our girls as they prepare for – and reflect on – leadership.

I hope you relish it as much as I do.

A Blessing for Leaders

May you have the grace and wisdom to act kindly,
learning to distinguish between what is personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the centre of things.
May you act not from arrogance but out of service.
May you work on yourself, building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May those who work for you know you see and respect them.
May you learn to cultivate the art of presence in order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you, may the graciousness with which you engage
be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind through reading and creative thinking
so that you continue as a servant of the frontier,
where the new will draw its enrichment from the old, and you never become functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening, the healing of wholesome words,
the encouragement of the appreciative gaze, the decorum of held dignity,
the springtime edge of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
so that you can evoke the bright fields that lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends to mirror your blind spots.
May leadership be for you a true adventure of growth.

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