Be bold, set your course and don’t be afraid to commit.
That was the message to the graduation class of Westminster School from the Navy Headquarters Chief of Staff at their graduation ceremony on 21 November.
Commodore Katherine Richards was the guest of honour at the Adelaide school’s graduation class of 2019.
In a speech entitled, “Developing resilience from adversity”, Commodore Richards congratulated the teachers and staff of the school for the work they had done for their students and said that their clear commitment was an inspiration.
Commodore Richards quoted the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
“It reminds us that we are capable of real excellence when properly motivated. Intention helps guide our action,” she said.
She also had a word of advice for fellow parents about the months and years to come after school, which can be challenging times for young adults and their parents alike.
“Some friction and some rub points are inevitable. Their relationship with you might undergo some important changes - from a parent-child relationship to genuine, lasting friendship,” said Commodore Richards.
The focus of the Commodore’s speech was naturally the students who she urged to embrace set-backs and difficulties as valuable opportunities for growth.
Commodore Richards described the Navy’s resilience program, explaining how it developed a capacity among Navy personnel to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity by focussing on the mind, heart and body.
“Mental resilience allows a person to return to their normal state of being more quickly and efficiently after a period of threat or stress.
“Moral and spiritual resilience - the heart - is a combination of a person’s character, sense of purpose and spiritual compass, which underpins everyday choices and this is very much about values.
“Physical wellbeing - the body - is about fitness, heath and strength, which are clearly very important in the Navy, but physical wellness really adds more to life in so many ways,” she explained.
Commodore Richards told the students that their families and the school have done a great job getting them ready to set off on their voyage, “…but the ship is supplied and ready now. It’s very well rigged and it’s a sturdy vessel,” she said.
“The time has come for you to step off the wharf and get underway because now, you are the Captain of your own life,” Commodore Richards said.