The death of someone I greatly admire, Muhammad Ali has prompted me to write this blog.
In my teenage years, I used to box. It taught me respect, discipline and focus. Old school values but important. I have followed boxing closely throughout my life. However the sport I love always had a shadow of Muhammad Ali hanging over it. In so many ways he created the sport we now know as boxing. We all know Ali's cry, "I am the greatest"; most seasoned boxing fans agree that Sugar Ray Robinson was in fact the greatest with Ali a close second.
But there is something which separates Ali from other sporting greats. Mention the names of Pele; Federer; Tendulkar; Woods; Carter and everyone sagely nods to the greatness of the sportsmen. But mention Ali, and the feeling is different. It's a feeling of a leader of a movement; a leader of a people; a genuinely great man.
I never write anything on this blog without linking it to what we do here at the academy. I'm nervous about making any comparison here but I think I can. It seems obvious now that Ali realised that he had become something different in his career. Did he set out to be this person we don't know for certain. Ali had a deeper purpose beyond being the greatest boxer of his time. He wanted to make a difference on a bigger scale.
About five years ago I was introduced to the work of Simon Sinek; https://www.ted.com/speakers/simon_sinek .
He talks eloquently about what many of us have known for years. We should start off not just focusing on the job you would like to do but instead focus on the goal you want to achieve. In my case, I never set out saying to myself that I wanted to be a Prinicpal. I set out on my career with a belief that I was committed to social justice, I wanted to make the greatest difference to a great number of people.
Believing in "why" we do things rather than "what" are we doing or "how" are we doing things means that we are linked on a deeper basis. And this is where the advice to many others needs to lie. Young people are often asked "what do you want to do?" Rather than "what do you want to achieve?" It's a different but incredibly important distinction. One gives you clarity on who you want to pay you; the other makes you think about what is going to get you out of bed in the morning for the rest of your life.
It's all about purpose.