Generosity of Spirit
Over the course of the September break I attended the Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia online conference for Principals. The keynote address at the AHISA (online) Conference, by former Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly.
As the first female CEO of one of Australia’s big four banks, listed by Forbes in 2010 as the eighth most powerful woman in the world, and mother of four (including triplets), Gail is celebrated as one of Australia’s finest, most innovative thinkers on leadership and workplace culture. In her presentation to principals, Gail shared what she has learned over her remarkable career, drawing from her personal and professional life. As a leader, she argues passionately for the importance of putting people and customers at the heart of a business; of leading with courage and generosity of spirit; and of resilience.
I appreciated Gail’s reflection on Eddie Jaku and his book, The Happiest Man on Earth. As a Holocaust survivor, Eddie revealed how he found gratitude and hope, despite the devastation of being stripped of his livelihood, exposed to the horrors of death camps and as Eddie writes: “I know what it is to stare evil in the face”. As Gail espoused, people can choose to be optimistic, to see the world through a glass-half full perspective, choosing how to respond to others and that a positive mindset has a multiplier impact on your life.
Of the leadership lessons Gail spoke to, it was the need to have a ‘generosity of spirit’ as an essential ingredient for being successful in life. Fundamentally, if you believe in practising generosity of spirit, at your heart you believe in the power of an individual to make a difference and at your heart, you treat individuals with deep respect and want to see others flourish.
In the last few weeks of Lockdown 6, I encourage families to join with me in drawing on this wisdom and strength from Gail’s shared words. What helps is loving what you do. Being a principal, with girls returning to School this week, gave me much joy and pride in how superbly our teachers have guided the journey of their students.
Finally, I encourage you all to continue adopting the optimistic frame of reference St Catherine’s is known for, take some time to recognise the multiplier impact this has on others around you and the sense of inner calmness it enables.