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Final Captain's Blog – Lessons in Leadership

When reflecting on the year, it is impossible not to consider the numerous lessons I have learnt. Leadership is very much a learn-on-the-job experience and while it has not all been smooth sailing this year, I’ve had the privilege of many wonderful mentors who have guided me along the way.

From weekly strategy meetings with Mr Ryan and Mr Flanagan, to the guidance of the amazing Mrs Peapell in the Formation office, there has been no end to the advice that I have received. In honour of this, I wanted to dedicate my last blog post to summarising the key lessons I learnt in 2020, and how to apply them to your own life as an ATC gentleman.

In no particular order, here are my top 6 “Lessons in Leadership” from 2020

1. Control the controllable

This year, we consistently talked about “controlling the controllable” in our meetings. I think it may be Mr Flanagan’s new favourite saying. The essence was to only focus on what we could control. In a year as weird and out of control as 2020, it was important to only worry about things we could directly affect. As a perfectionist, I found it initially quite confronting but when I resolved to put it into practice, I found it quite exhilarating. It’s surprising the pressure we put on ourselves to perform miracles, and by reminding ourselves that some things are out of our control, it becomes easier to focus on the things that are. And the important thing to remember is this doesn’t have to mean big things like COVID-19 or climate change. It could be as simple as deciding that how well Symphonic Winds does at tomorrow’s concert is out of your control, as long as you’ve practised your own part well. It’s up to everyone else to pull their weight. I’ve found that remembering to only “control the controllable” has really helped me stay positive.

2. Do the little things well

Mr Ryan started the year off by reminding us all to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), and as leaders we’ve tried to take that to heart. While it’s easy to aim big every single time, it effectively means nothing gets done. By attempting something massive every time, you just get worn out or overwhelmed. All year we’ve focussed on doing the small things well – and it’s amazing the difference they can make. Every small act of kindness, from games of handball to picking up rubbish to patting a friend on the back after a soccer game, makes an incredible difference. I’ve certainly noticed the changes, especially in our attitude at school, as we focussed on looking good, feeling good, and doing good this year.

3. Stay true to yourself

The most important thing as a leader is to stay true to yourself. People can often get caught up in being a leader and forget why they wanted to lead in the first place. One of the key things I talked about with Rory and Mitch about was not changing who we were. Yes, that bought with it some challenges – and I know we all became better captains as the year went on – but the important thing for us was to retain the same optimism, fun, and individual talents that had got us elected in the first place. And this applies not just to leadership. In all aspects of your life, it’s important that you are constantly the person that YOU want to be, not the person someone else wants you to be.

4. Have FUN!

I think Ezra Mam and Josh Lane would never forgive me if I didn’t include this as one of my top 6 lessons from this year. Their job for the entirety of the year, was to make sure that any ideas we came up with were fun. Our unofficial motto this year – along with Look Good, Feel Good, and Do Good – was “Have fun!”. Every activity we ran, from Feel Good Fridays with the Year 4s to Staff vs Students touch rugby games, was true to this philosophy. Even the videos that went out during the COVID-19 lockdown were aimed at bringing some fun back to school. For me, school is all about having fun (and maybe doing some learning along the way).

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One of the biggest learning curves for me personally, was learning to ask for help. It’s impossible to do everything by yourself, or know everything, and the best way to improve as a leader is to ask for help. I promise you, it’s not as scary as it sounds. And as a bonus, asking for help sometimes uncovers ideas you’ve never thought of before. When I asked Mrs Sparksman for help contacting science students last year, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of blogging and communication options. I connected with all Year 12 boys via email on a weekly basis and wrote blogs for ATConnect. The only way to improve is to ask for help!

6. Have a good team

Finally, there is no way I possible could have achieved so much this year, if it weren’t for the team around me. 2020 has been a crazy year – and certainly a baptism of fire as a leader – and there is no way I would have survived it on my own. I’m not sure how many boys appreciate it but the staff at ATC are supremely dedicated to making sure everything runs smoothly. Not only have the staff been amazing but so too have been the other Grade 12s. Nearly every single boy has taken on a leadership role in some way, and they have all contributed to making 2020 the year that it was.

There we go! Six lessons that I’ve learnt during my time as College Captain. Despite the hectic time of final exams, I’m glad I’ve taken this opportunity to look back and reflect on the year. There’s been too many wonderful experiences to record in just one blog, but I hope this reflection gives you some insight into why it’s been an amazing year, and why I feel very sad to be leaving such a wonderful school. I wish you all the very best for the future, and as always I hope you continue to look good, feel good and do good!

Tom Perissinotto

Some of My Blogs

Science Ambassadors blog 1
Science Ambassadors blog 2
Looking Good blog
India Immersion blog