A School For Tomorrow


We need to identify and understand our purpose, place, people and practice – how we align our way of life with our values to create vocation.

Understanding our vocation on The Pathway to Excellence seems to be much about defining our sense of purpose. For it is through their sense of mission that we are best formed in terms of our vocational practice, and inevitably also our leadership practice. This practice is usually intensely practical and rarely shaped by an established theoretical model (although it should be). It is highly situational and responsive to the need to situate ourselves within and then balance the different pressures associated with charting the course of a group, team, organisation or community from yesterday to today to tomorrow. It is as respectful of the broader picture of ethos, reputation, and society, as it is about the specific circumstances of individuals, the wider community, and the families from which they are derived. Thus, our beliefs about what is important and what should be done about these things seem to drive our compelling narrative, the reason why we do what we do.

Perhaps our hardest task in this respect will be to convince those around us of the worthiness of this purpose. The next most difficult challenge comes with supporting people to grow to become who they should be in pursuit of this purpose. Many will naturally wish to remain where they are, responding in the first instance to the comfort of present-day security rather than the challenge of growth. This requires all of us to keep our commitment to go on the journey towards character that is The Pathway to Excellence. It’s about how we individually and collectively equip, empower and enable each other learn, live, lead and work in a manner that enables us to thrive in our world. 
"A job is a vocation only if someone else calls you to do it for them rather than for yourself. And so our work can be a calling only if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests. Thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person."
Timothy Keller
Learning is a competency that aligns with the quest towards self-awareness and the meeting expectation to "know ourselves". It is about us learning who we are and what we can do in response to the question, “who are we?” It can be signified in particular by our academic and other achievements and attainments that give us indications of the milestones we have achieved that might act as a passport to validate our progress and give us ongoing entry to a continuum of learning and unlearning as we seek to become stronger in all of the facets of our lives. We can track learning competency particularly through a person’s values and beliefs, personal development, and academic development.

Living is a competency that aligns with the search for relationship and meeting the expectation that we must "earn our place". It is about us learning about “Our People” and “Our Place” and how we earn a response to the question, “where do we fit in?”. It can be recognised by the way in which we show our understanding of and respect for the people and places, and the language, customs, honourable traditions, rituals, and values of the people and places from which we have come and to where we are going. We can track living competency particularly through a person’s network of family and friends, home life and finances, and relational development.

Leading is a competency that aligns with the challenge of service and meeting the expectation that we must "go on a journey from me to you to us". It is about us applying our learning and our living competencies towards answering the question, “how can we best serve others?” Our dedication to cause, our contributions to the community, our voluntary acts of participation, and our formal and informal roles of leadership all help us to build a model of “Our Practice” based on the actions, service, and community-minded values on which our leadership for the future will be based. We can track leadership competency particularly through a person’s formal leadership experience, service and volunteering, and leadership development.

Working is a competency that aligns with the discovery of vocational commitment and meeting the expectation to "find our calling". It is related to but about much more than jobs and careers, answering the question “whose are we?”. It is about how we have built around us the supportive network of people for and with whom our opportunities, goals, schedule, progress might find a meaningful home. We can track work competency particularly through a person’s sense of social purpose, planning, and career development.

All of these competencies are, therefore, connected intimately with each other; inherent in this connectedness is the measurement of a person’s progress according to our sense of thriving in the world (character, competency and wellness), growth in mastery of our competencies especially under new circumstances (adaptive expertise), and organisation of our lives around our competencies (self-efficacy). Leadership in this respect involves data-nuanced systems of reflection and feedback that can help all of us to assess the starting point for our levels of competency in learning, living, leadership, and work and then measuring our:

    • Growth: progress in gaining competency 
    • Motivation: confidence in exercise of competency
    • Engagement: disposition towards further growth in competency 
    • Achievement: successful application of competency 
    • Qualification: external accreditation of competency

Vocation and leadership within this context, therefore, involve helping all of us to become who we need to become. We need to know what we are learning – aspiration. We need to go on a journey of encounter, connection, challenge, and discovery to acquire character and competencies – experience. We need to collaborate with our teachers, mentors and experts as the co-authors of the narrative of our learning journey – agency. We need to discover our own identity and how best to express it through our learning and relationships – voice. And we need to be provided with the time, support, and conditions that will help us to make the most of our learning – resource.

We may not see ourselves as worthy of this challenge or capable of it, but humility, and willpower will go a long way to helping build that personalised, aligned and integrated sense of Our Purpose, Our People, Our Place, and Our Practice that is at the heart of what it is that we do for others – our vocation.

We can contemplate the social contract of our Purpose, Place, People and Practice by considering the following questions:
    • Can I explain my Purpose and show how it is aligned with the mission of the organisation in which I work and lead?
    • Does my Purpose respond to the Place where I work and lead – the culture, ethos, relationships and ways by which results achieved?
    • Is my Purpose in service of the progress and wellness of the People with whom I work and lead?
    • Does my Purpose guide my Practice – how I act, manage and lead to meet my responsibilities and to ensure that the organisation achieves its goals and results?
    • Do I refine, deepen and strengthen my Purpose over the course of my career journey?



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