Gambatte (Persist)

It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.
–        Albert Einstein

A lifetime ago (or so it seems), I lived in Japan. There began my fondness for the word persist.

Every day, in every context, every Japanese person I came across told others “Gambatte!”, “Persist!”. From toddlers at the doctor’s office, to students at school, to adults in their daily to and fro, it was almost as common as hello. It stood out particularly because of its relative absence in dialogue back home in Canada.

How often do you hear the word persist?

As evident in the quote up top, persisting worked for Einstein. Steve Jobs also has a compelling story in persistence, as told in his 2005 speech at Stanford’s graduation ceremony (if you haven’t seen it, visit the KCS YouTube channel and find it in Favorites). Also, though not yet famous, persisting works for KCS students when they face challenges, be they reading, writing, math, exams, or opportunities sought and lost. We see it all the time.

Grade 8 Lip SyncAs I write, the 2011 Lip Sync just ended. A new story of persisting emerged from this event. One of our grade 8 students sent me an email asking if he and his large group could use the Multipurpose Room to practice. That rehearsal went poorly, and he sent me a subsequent email saying they wouldn’t perform. The next morning, however, he sent yet another email. Here is what he wrote: “I thought about the lip sync again and I am willing to make one more shot at this. Sorry for causing you a lot of mayhem. I am going to regroup with certain people and see if I can reconfigure the lip sync from a large size crowd to a smaller one to make it work.”

Well, they regrouped and put on a most entertaining performance! Of everyone in the audience (maybe apart from his ecstatic parents), I took the most pleasure. I knew about the extra layers of leadership, persistence, flexible thinking and resilience that went into the final production.

Now, I could also add that seeing this young man grooving with peers on stage was hugely out of his comfort zone. But that would get me talking about taking responsible risks…

If persisting helped you accomplish things that mattered in your life, please help us spread the word. It’s a secret to success worth sharing.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

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