The Last Word

By Shay Thom | Posted: Monday September 17, 2018

Today Id like to talk about overcoming adversity by telling you a few stories. One is about an elephant, the other is about a chicken (sort of).

A man was once visiting a wildlife centre and was passing an elephant. He suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious to the man that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they stayed. He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away”.

They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free. The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Compare that story to the inspirational story of Colonel Sanders. You may know this man for his delicious fried chicken, potato and gravy or even his incredibly well priced snack lunch menu, but many of you may not realise the struggles he went through for years to become a household name. His recipe of 11 secret herbs and spices was rejected 1,009 times. Sander's "secret recipe" was accepted finally and "Kentucky Fried Chicken" quickly became a hit. After years of failures and misfortunes, Sanders finally hit it big. KFC expanded internationally and now there are an estimated 18,000 KFC locations in 118 countries. Sander’s goatee beard, white suit and western string tie continue to symbolize delicious country fried chicken all over the world

So, if you're overwhelmed by rejection or discouraged by setbacks, remember the story of Colonel Sanders. He was set back and rejected over and over again, yet still created one of the largest fast food chains in the world. Sanders wouldn't let anything, or anyone defeat him. What I’m trying to say from these two stories is; be like Colonel Sanders and not like the elephant.

Failure is part of learning. We should never give up the struggle in life. No doubt everyone in this room has faced a period where they have truly struggled. Whether it was in the classroom, on the stage or on the sports field, these struggles are unavoidable. Whether the struggle is big or small, never let it get the best of you. Never stop challenging yourself. For some, the upcoming set of examinations will be extremely challenging and quite possibly the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome at Otago Boys’. But when I’m going to be an hour and half into my calculus exam and well and truly out of my depth, struggling to remember when to use the chain rule, I’ll think to a quote my dad likes to throw around every now and then. “Never give in... never give in…. never, never, never, never.”