Kobe Bryant is a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school, and has won five NBA championships. Bryant is a 17-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team.
When it comes to progress, there is some controversy over how important the past is to future success. Some would argue that the past is the past, and it should be left where it is – there is no use in regret or dwelling on things long gone. Others would say it is impossible to move forward unless our mistakes or failings have been fully addressed.
I believe the answer is, as always, somewhere in between. Nobody can possibly live a life free from error or misjudgement. However, ignoring our flaws and looking only to the future will create the impression of a life constantly in the present moment, without context and without direction. Challenges will be met as if for the first time, and we create cyclical patterns in our lives, approaching the same situation with the same solutions again and again (Einstein’s definition of insanity, it is said, is exactly this behaviour).
Dwelling on those mistakes, on the other hand, being consumed in them, can paralyse us with a fear of repeating them. They can become an anchor, dragging us backwards.
At Hammersmith Academy, we teach Reflectiveness. Where this differs from merely thinking about the past, to dwelling on it incessantly, is the ability to gain an awareness of why we do the things that we do. Many decisions, especially bad ones, will be made in the heat of the moment, where emotion and passion overtake our reasoned thought and blind us from thinking long term. Reflecting on things can help us to go back to that moment, with an objective viewpoint, and analyse different approaches we could have taken. When a similar situation arises, therefore, we are better able to focus on reason, in the moment, and see the potential consequences of our actions – both positive and negative.
Basketball is a fast paced game that requires physical and mental agility. Kobe Bryant needs to be able to rely on his in-the-moment decision making skills. Without reflecting on the past he will be constantly adrift in the present moment, relying on inefficient and ineffective gut reactions. The past can provide a context, a basis on which to learn from and develop. But whilst we reflect, we must also concentrate on what’s coming and what’s happening right now. Reflecting with purpose stops us from becoming stuck in the past, and allows us to lay the foundations of a more considered and wise approach to the challenges we face. Our past mistakes instead become a guiding hand, gently ushering us away from pitfalls and in a better direction.
Gary Kynaston, Headteacher