The Last Word

By Eddie Grant | Posted: Tuesday November 1, 2016

This morning at the final Senior Assembly Eddie Grant delivered his Last Word as Head Boy for 2016.

Good morning School. Congratulations on another unbelievable year. I hope everyone who was celebrated at prize giving last night is extremely proud of it, you have all done a great job.

I think most of you would agree with me when I say that 2016 has been the fastest year ever. And I hope most of you agree with me when I say that 2016 has been the best year ever. Despite the fact that this year has gone by in a flash, I have extremely enjoyed my year as Head Boy. Thank you very much for accepting me in that role, and allowing me to have the best year I possibly could have.

I don’t have a sob story for you today. I'm not going to try and roast everyone in the audience and get laughs. Nor am I going to talk about how amazing Otago Boys’ is again, or hope, or gaining knowledge, or taking your opportunities. Today I’m going to give you all a number of tips about how to survive in the real world. This is probably more relevant for the Year 13s who are off out the gates straight after this, although Year 11s and 12s do take note for the future. Also, I know that I have no more wisdom or knowledge about the future than any of you in here. Although I have borrowed tips which I have found in songs, other speeches, and just advice I’ve been given by elders or thought of myself I have made them all into my own words, giving them an OB’s touch.

Tip #1 – Don’t worry about the future. I know this one from experience. All year I had been worried about what I was going to be doing next year. But it wasn’t until I stopped spending hours a day worrying whether I’d study in Dunedin or Wellington or whether I’d study a Law or a PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics)  degree. Whether I’d live in a hall of residence or stay at home, that everything just seemed to work itself out. I plan to study a PPE, living at Knox College at the University of Otago and I am very excited.

#2 Try singing. It can be fun.

#3 Don't waste your time being jealous of others. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself. Maybe you missed out on an award last night at prize giving that you were aiming for, it happens. But its how you recover that shows your true character.

#4 Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. Sure, I know what I’m doing next year. But each year after that I am less certain about what I will be doing. This doesn’t make me feel guilty or worry, it excites me, because I know that the possibilities are honestly endless. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

#5 Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

#6 Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings.

#7 Some people, already know exactly what they want to do, whether its property, commerce, law, engineering. That is great, but if you don’t know, this bit of advice is crucial. “Begin working on what YOU think YOU want to do. It can always change, there are plenty of years left in our lives.”

#8 Keep up your fitness. As I mentioned yesterday, life has times of instability and unpredictability, you need to be physically fit to be resilient. Be disciplined with fitness. Fitness and success go hand in hand.

#9 Look inward to see what motivates you. Identifying what motivates you, this may show you where your strengths lie.

#10 Try to work out what you like doing. This can be hard if you like something but are not very good at it yet. Make the decision, you have lots of time. Try and find a way of becoming excellent at something that you really like doing. If you are good at what you like and can turn it into a career, you might never really have to work a day in your life.

#11 Set high standards in everything you do. Build life skills of getting up early, learning to cook, fixing things that are broken, caring for and considering others, being positive , doing your job with excellence. This is the area that I personally, definitely need to focus on the most. And I’ll make a start by going home and cleaning my untidy room after this.

Although….somehow you have to combine this life discipline with a bit of rule breaking. Rule breaking is necessary and with disciplined logic and emotion, rule breaking creates success.

#12 Be grateful for the luck of your birth and the country in which you live. New Zealand is a fantastic country. We need to look around and breathe in our fresh air and be grateful on a daily basis. See the good in people and your communications will be positive. Most people are trying to do their best. In the words of Wendy Mass, 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.'

#13 Recognize crossroads when they appear in life: a global financial crisis, accidents, redundancy, a death of a relative, world events. Bad events are excellent opportunities for making you really think and take strong action. Is this where I want to be? How can we benefit from this? Try to benefit from every crisis.

#14 Keep in communication with your old friends, you might need them. But also keep making new friends.

#15 If you start to think, “I like this and I think I’m good at it, better than the people who are already doing it”, have a go! Either apply for that bigger role in the office (or that extra degree) or start up your own and do it. Every single thing in our lives is the result of someone else having a go, inventing something or improving on it. From the phone that wakes us up, the bed that we get out of, the car we drive, the apps we use.

#16 Try to wipe the word “I” from your vocabulary. Start sentences with:  we, you, have you considered, have you noticed, would you suggest.  Always it is about what we want to achieve or do. Not many people work in complete isolation. Essentially humans work in teams. Which leads to … tip number 17.

#17 Start thinking and making a difference to your neighbourhood, your community, your country, your world. We can all make a difference and the more of us who start thinking about the greater good, the better the world will be.

#18 Understand that part of your job on Earth is to make those you come into contact with on any day, feel a bit better than before they met you.

#19 Hold our school values close; well after your 5 years here.

Creating men of oak through: Perseverance, Excellence, Courage, Honour and Respect.

Boys, your hearts of oak have been created.

I hope you are now somewhat prepared for life beyond these gates, just like I am.

To my Year 13 brothers, thank you for being an awesome group of guys to spend the last five years with. We have had a truly excellent time. And not necessarily at school either. We have enjoyed life together in its wholeness, on and off the field, in and out of the classroom. In and out of the campground or wherever else people have gone for their off season endeavours. I’m proud to have been through Otago Boys’ with all of you, and I look forward to bumping into you on George street, or in restaurants, or overseas and finding out how things have worked out for us all. I also hope to see as many of the year group as possible show for reunions and get togethers.

Thank you to the Year 12s. You’re an amazing year group, and I’m sure you’ll do a great job leading the rest of the school in 2017. Year 13 brings with it some of the best opportunities at Otago Boys’. You get the school formal, and the hostel/day boys league match which were both extremely fun outings this year. So look forward to these events, and don’t blow them for the Year 11’s.

Thank you to the Year 11s. It has been awesome getting to know you guys throughout the 3 years you have spent here at school. Don’t do Year 12 things in Year 11 or Year 13 things in Year 12. If we’re being honest Year 12 is probably when people start being allowed to drink, it also happens to be the time when people get their restricted licenses. So be safe next year boys, don’t grow up too fast.

And thank you too to the prefects. Your last words been inspirational to me and really made me think. Im sure they made everyone else in the audience think as well. I especially enjoyed Sam Dippie's speech about finishing strong, as well as Isi’s incredible bilingual speech when we welcomed the Educational Review Office earlier in the year.

Just remember that one of the most important parts of the year is just about to start, NZQA exams, so don’t get set in holiday mode too soon.

I can not believe that my 5 years is up at Otago Boys', but I look forward to the future as it will bring challenge and opportunity. And I know that I will always be an OB’s boy.

I’ll finish with a quote by Thomas Wardhaugh in his 2012 speech,

“I guess it's true what they say…time flies when you’re having fun.”