On Saturday afternoon as I sat enjoying the outstanding St. Clement’s School performance of The Sound of Music, and listened to Mother Abbess sing the song Climb Every Mountain, I reflected on how often we are reminded about life being a journey with many paths, some feeling like mountainous ones, and every one of them an opportunity.
Just a few hours prior to seeing our senior drama production, I had returned from the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) Annual Conference in California. Thousands of independent school educators gathered for three days to attend workshops about classroom and student experience, communication and advancement, governance, leadership and management. In addition to these workshops, we were treated to four exceptional key note speakers who, just like Mother Abbess, spoke about the idea of ‘climbing every mountain.’
From actor Viola Davis, the first black woman to win a Tony, an Emmy and an Oscar, came the powerful reminder that our experiences are our paths and that we must embrace ourselves. Davis said, “While there seems always to be an assault on individuality, the sooner we realize that each of us is divinely made, the better we will be,” and, “You find and become yourself when you realize you are entirely, messily and marvelously what you are meant to be.”
Author and entrepreneur Frans Johannson talked of the powerful impact seeking many diverse paths can have. He reminded us that “we have the best chance of breaking ground when we connect diverse ideas and things,” and, “in order to innovate we must ‘place more bets’ and try out more ideas.”
Entrepreneur, social activist and founder of the Malala Fund, Shiza Shahid reminded us that “there are moments [in life] when we have to decide who we are, and allow ourselves to be guided by our hopes and by our fears rather than the ‘shoulds.’
Finally, Simon Sinek, ethnographer and inspirational speaker, reminded us of the importance of living an ‘infinite life,’ explaining that we must commit ourselves to a life of service- to see those around us rise, and to leave the world and the things we touch in better shape than when we came to them.
Indeed, these nuggets on life come from those who have gained life experience, followed many paths, and have acquired clear hindsight.
Many of us- blessed to be working together in the St. Clement’s community to develop our Clementines into outstanding women- have learned lessons over time, too. It is our responsibility to regularly remind our girls that their lives are journeys with infinite choices, where a diversity of experiences and multiple paths will enhance their experiences. Our girls really must ‘climb every mountain’ with a reminder that beyond finding their own dreams, they can leave the things and people with whom they work far better than they found them.