Saint Ignatius College Geelong

Also in this Edition

    Faith Matters - Intelligence

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters - Intelligence

    As we enter the crescendo of the winter sporting season we are able to observe the best of people and moments where they let themselves and their team down. As winning might seem the most important goal some players offer grace and highlight the fact that respectful and fair competition supersedes the outcome. Conversely we see other examples where in the heat of the moment some placing fairness and respect a distant second. With many of our students competing in finals at this time we contemplate the connections between our actions and our emotions.

    The role of the College is to teach young people the required knowledge and administrative the nuances that will help them achieve the best ATAR result or pathway outcomes that will help them stand out as a potential trainee or apprentice. This role is enhanced by our Ignatian understanding of cura personalis - care for the whole person. At Saint Ignatius we believe that we offer an education based upon something more profound than an ATAR score or potential employment opportunity. Our primary role at the College is to develop the whole person; mind, body and spirit. Although at times we too can be blinded by the emotion and ‘competition’ of academic success just as sportspeople can be blinkered by the aspiration to win.

    Society has a similar interest in personal development as the College. Generally, this understanding is referred to as ‘emotional intelligence’ by employers and motivational speakers. Emotional intelligence is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”. In being aware of our emotions we are able to objectively discern what informs and prompts our feelings which directs our decisions and actions both positively and negatively. Aware of the basis for what drives us we might then determine if we should proceed or not. Ignatius was very clear in stating that in times of desolation to make no change, only make change or respond to important issues when in consolation.

    In the sporting world this is where things sometimes go wrong. When the entire season is determined by each game of the finals series, emotions are heightened and if not controlled can lead a player to do or say something that is ‘out of character’. The US Open Women’s Final on the weekend was an example of how emotions can overcome a person. Serena Williams’ outburst offered an example of how ugly sport can be when emotions take control. In the coming days and weeks, she will be further sanctioned by the association and the fans who desire better. With time to reflect she will seek redemption and offer an apology with humility and remorse worthy of the champion she is. Soon new competition will begin and fans will eagerly await the perfection that might be seen in sporting excellence and in the respect and fairness heroes like Serena might offer; no matter what the result may be.

    Through sport we also observe the best of human nature and beauty found in respectful competition. Five years ago Spanish athlete Ivan Anaya refused to let a mistake by Olympic Bronze Medalist Abel Mutai allow him to win. After mistakenly stopping ten meters before the official finish line Abel Mutai was guided to the finish by the Spaniard who gestured that the race had not finished and jogged behind him until they passed the finish line. If Ivan chose to go past the Kenyan, he would not have broken any official rule but even in the heat of the moment he gave up what would have been his best ever result. Because of his selfless actions Ivan Anaya has become somewhat of a sporting icon even though he has not won an Olympic or World Championship medal, at least not yet.
    Being in control of your emotions does not mean that you do not have any, it means that in practice you don’t let your emotions lead you to make decisions you might later regret. Ivan is an excellent example of this fact.

    At the College we seek to develop emotional intelligence in our students. We seek to especially focus on helping students be able to discern the better from the good and make a decision founded upon the magis. As we consider the definition of emotional intelligence we also hope to help students develop judicious and empathetic relationships. Making good judgements in relationships can often be challenging and emotion driven. Developing right relationships requires maturity and control over one’s emotions. In friendship or being in a community we also need to develop empathy for others, even those we might find difficult or compete against. In being empathetic we enter into the experience of the other in a personal way and ‘feel’ what they do. Through empathy we are sensitive to the needs of the other and are able to move beyond our own thoughts and feelings.

    St Ignatius was well aware of the negative outcomes of competitiveness and the lack of emotional control. In time and with God’s guidance he became an exemplar of emotional intelligence and how it might be mastered. In desiring only what brings glory to God and removing disordered attachments Ignatius was able to overcome emotion and the movement of the ‘bad spirit’. His spiritual legacy guides us so that we might achieve contentedness and all that is of God. His wisdom developed the Ignatian understanding of cura personalis which we at the College strive to achieve so that every student can achieve the plan God has for them.

    Sporting clubs spend a great deal of money in an attempt to develop a positive mindset and build strong relational bonds within a team. Much of the time these initiatives within clubs achieve the desired outcome, however, sometimes the pressure is too much and emotions get the better of the player or the team. Our Ignatian tradition can strengthen these ideas students that they encounter in their sporting pursuits and enhance their emotional intelligence through developing a deeper relationship with self and God.

    As the finals session reaches a climax we look forward to the achievements of our students as they compete in their chosen sports. We await the last two games of the finals and hope that no matter what the result our students compete with distinction, respect for others and a spirit of fairness. Emotional intelligence is a modern phrase that articulates so much of what we hope to develop in working with our students, cura personalis is a word we use to describe what we focus on at the College that we believe develops the same behaviours and attitudes.

    Yours in Christ,

    Mr Brendan Nicholls   Liturgy Coordinator


    Also in this Edition