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I’m pretty sure I was as shocked as most people when I heard that Ash Barty had retired earlier this week.
It’s not often that a champion athlete decides to retire when they are at the top of their game and still has the potential to achieve so much more, but that’s exactly what she did.
She won the Australian Open this year, is ranked Number 1 in the world by a considerable margin, and is only 25 years old.
Yet, after watching her speak about her retirement, she is perfectly content that she has made the right decision.
It makes for a refreshing change to see someone give up the lure of personal glory and bow out gracefully and leave people thinking – “Wow, there’s so much more she could’ve done.”
It’s sad to see champions go on for one more year, or make comebacks after retirement, and have people calling for them to end their careers.
As someone in a leadership position in this school, I often wonder about when the right time will be for me to take a step back.
From the first day I took on this responsibility I have been aware that I never want to reach a point where people are asking “Why is HE still here??”
However, the main thing that really struck me about Ash Barty’s retirement was part of the explanation behind her decision.
“Success for me is knowing I’ve given absolutely everything I can. I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself.”
There is simply so much wisdom in these words that we can apply to our lives.
Doing our best, no matter what the situation, and no matter what the outcome, is the most authentic measure of success.
When I talk to senior students about the HSC, I have a consistent message that if they do their best, then they’ve succeeded – no matter what score they get on a piece of paper.
Any student who works as hard as they can, and does their best can walk away from the HSC knowing they have already succeeded.
It’s that same message that Wane Bennett uses with his teams.
In his book about coaching he notes that a team that loses by 20 points but has played to the absolute best of their abilities is a far greater success in his eyes than a team that wins by 40 points but does not play to their potential.
The score is not important – the effort is.
I truly hope that our students can use Ash Barty as inspiration. I hope that they give their best to every situation and know they have succeeded simply by doing that.