The Last Word

By Nicolas Sinnott | Posted: Sunday July 29, 2018

This will be the final last word I will ever give to this school. Not by choice, not because I dont like giving them. But because my time at this school is coming to a close, much sooner than I would like it to.

What I say here isn’t trying to make a splash or drive anyone to tears, I’m merely taking the opportunity to give back what I’ve learned so that you may all benefit and do better than I did. More than anything, this is the first of many farewells. The beginning of the end if you will.

I want to leave this school better than I found it but also leave you boys better off. After all, where are the hoops without the army, where’s Otago Boys without the boys? So today I would like to share with you some personal mantra that I’ve lived by and you can feel free to adopt.

We don’t know how much choice we have over who we are. The biggest difference between you and the person next to you is up here. Its mentality, and that’s the most malleable thing about you. We all have the option to be Brad Pitt, Richie McCaw, or Tim Dippie, but most of us just let life wash over us and let it decide who we are. We let what happens to us from chance affect who we are. We become products of our circumstances.

And while you can’t change what’s given to you, you can change your thinking. To adopt a winning mind-set is to be a winner. The funniest thing is that we all know this. We’ve all heard the “you can be anything” speech, we are just too lazy to act on it, always thinking that that message is meant for someone else. Well heed this message because it is for you, the middle man, the OB’s boy. It’s screaming at you to wake up and take your shot before it’s too late and the excuses run out. Why do we leave success to the born winners, they are no different from you or me?

You can probably tell I’ve given some thought to what makes a successful person successful. There are a few factors that I think help determine success. Firstly, how much you enjoy doing what you’re doing. A lot of successful people find something they love doing and don’t stop doing it until they’re the best. By all means, that’s one approach. But there’s another way to do it, that doesn’t rely on grinding away hours on end. I believe that how successful you are depends on how good you are at cutting cake. Each day you have a pretty big cake put in front of you to share how you will, 24 servings in fact. How many slices of that cake do you let waste? Do you put aside any slices for tomorrow, do you invest in your own future?

Hamish Bond told us if you’re willing to sacrifice things you’ll be that much better off because of it, six internals on the go becomes easy if you pop into the library for a few lunchtimes. Give that slice to someone else; devote that hour to something beneficial, because it’s in your best interests.

My time here has changed me. It’s taught me and shaped me as I grew. I’ve had successes, and I’ve had many a failure, and through trial and error I’ve created these metaphors that can be applied to situations both in school and out there in the world. Year thirteens, we’re all about to have some huge changes in our lives and not all of us might feel ready for them. And so this mantra I share with you addresses this.

The earth that we sit on flies through space at 30 kilometres per second, and no one bats an eye. But if the earth were to suddenly stop, much like a car crash, everything sitting on it would be thrown at breakneck speeds. The same goes for when you’re in a plane; you get forced back into your seat during take-off but mid–flight you don’t notice anything, yet you’re travelling just as fast. It’s not the speed that you notice, it’s the acceleration, it’s the change. Try to think of this where speed could be the difficulty of your situation. Remember this when your workload at school gets ramped up; it only feels bad because it’s the take-off, you can get used to it. This goes further than schoolwork though. You can and will get used to any big change in your life. Going to uni, moving cities, family strife. Eventually even the most extreme of conditions become the norm. Time heals all wounds.

But unfortunately this metaphor comes with a downside. We also get used to the good things in life and take them for granted. Put a boy in the best school in the country and eventually it just becomes school; and so to the rest of you boys, I say realise that this school isn’t the same as others. You are so lucky to be here. You are so lucky to go to a far better than average school. How lucky are you to live in a middle class city in a beautiful peaceful country? How lucky are you to just be alive, to be the gamete that made it out of thousands, to not run into some unforeseeable demise, lucky even to be born in the era we are in now? The fact that you are sitting here today means that you can never be down on your luck.

I sometimes wondered why old boys were so crazy about this place, but as my own schooling career comes closer and closer to an end I’m starting to realise why. We’ve got to remember that in six years, none of us will be here, but the traditions that flow through us will live on. I’ve given thought to what might happen after we leave and I think the following passage describes it well.

Thro’ the coming years we trust

When we are voiceless in the dust.

Dunedin’s’ children brave and strong

Will guard Otago Boys’ from wrong.

Nō reira e te whanau, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā hoki tātou katoa.