The Last Word

By Dan Ryan | Posted: Wednesday May 10, 2017

We, as the youth of this generation are pounded by the cliche of "taking every opportunity that comes our way." Our parents push us to try new things. We are encouraged by our grandfathers to grab life by the horns. Nike tells us to just do it. Adidas tell us that impossible is nothing. I can guarantee you that only a handful of people in this auditorium could look themselves in the mirror at the end of the day and convince themselves that they made the most of their given opportunities.

We don't know how lucky we really are in being able to sit in this very auditorium, surrounded by a wealth of outstanding opportunities and a wealth of outstanding people, to support us on these challenges. We take them for granted, and often lose sight of reality and how spoilt we are.

At the end of the last term I was lucky enough to be offered a spot on Voyage number 736 on board the Spirit of New Zealand; which departed from Queens Wharf, Auckland on the 7th of April 2017. I was dumped from a bus, along with 39 other strangers from all parts of the country - completely unaware of the awesome time I was gonna share with an awesome bunch of people over the next 10 days.

Being able to sail around the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel was a great experience in itself. Witnessing a foreign and amazing part of the country. It was the life lessons I learnt while on board that truly made the trip worthwhile.

The ship carried a small but powerful slogan that reflected everything the experience was about, and a slogan I have carried with me ever since. “Carpe Diem” which is Latin for “Seize the day”, and it meant everything the ship stood for.

Life on board was simple, but it was productive, it was fun and most of all it was satisfying. No snapchat, no 2K, no distractions, no worries. We had clear goals and minimal distractions and it was easy to achieve a lot. I was amazed that by taking away less important distractions, I was able to focus purely on the job at hand, and really appreciate the different characters of the other trainees.

Since I've been back, I have tried to transition this into my everyday life and found, I have been far more productive, more driven and more capable of getting ahead of work instead of procrastinating and falling behind, as is stereotypical of the teenage boy.

Also living in the now, appreciating the people around you and making the most of present time, I'd encourage you lads to give it a go as well. Whether it's leaving your phone in your room before you study, switching off the TV for an hour, or muting the group chat to talk to your family or friends. It's easy and I believe it will make a world of difference.

The program also pushed us to get out of our comfort zones and overcome our sense of doubt and replace it with self belief with encouragement from the team.

Lads afraid of heights originally refused to climb the 40m high mast. With positive peer pressure and one off experience the program offered, their desire to seize the moment outweighed their fears and 5 days later they posed at the top the mast with an ear to ear grin, stoked and in their own words feeling “2 million bucks”. In utter disbelief that they were where they were, hanging 40m above the Hauraki Gulf, attached to the mast by just a rope and harness. It was inspiring.

By seizing the moment and with the help of their mates they were able to overcome their fear and walk away proud that they had pushed past their comfort zone and made the most of the opportunity they were presented with. So I encourage all of you, when the opportunity arises to make the most of the moment and overcome your fears, because the opportunity to do so may never repeat itself.

Opportunities arise every day that could potentially change the way you view the world. This school is full of them, and I would encourage all of you to make the most of the opportunities and the support available to you from the staff and most importantly your mates.  Give something new a shot, follow what you love and back yourself. Set some goals, minimise distractions and grab life by the horns, just do it, impossible is nothing and as the late Robin William’s once said “Carpe Diem.  Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary."