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The Cross-Code War!

Growing up in the 1980s and 90s, I was exposed to the big four football codes. In my early years, it was AFL in Melbourne, and then as my family moved to Papua New Guinea, it was all Rugby League. Soccer took over as the preference in my early high school years before the inevitable private school love of Rugby Union took hold in my late teens and served me quite well into my twenties.

Throughout it all, I was intrigued by the cross-code wars. Think Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers from League to Union. Ricky Stuart, Michael O’Connor and Parramatta legend Ray Price from Union to League. Think Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau, who went from League to AFL. How about Sonny-Bill Williams – who just kept going back and forth between league and union. The latest signing is the next big thing Joseph Suaalii from the Roosters moving from League to Union. And this week, it’s been reported that the ARU are targeting big Payne Hass – the best current Prop in the rugby league universe. It always makes for a great headline, doesn’t it?  

I’ve always wondered how they felt moving from one profession where they were at the top of their game, had the respect of their communities and were highly skilled to move into another profession where they had to start all over again. Their network was smaller, they had to learn a whole new set of skills, and they had to earn the respect of their colleagues in an entirely new field.

While I’m not even close to being in the same stratosphere as the gentlemen mentioned above, I am living my version of crossing over to a new code. I’ve just left a job I love, a community I adore and a system that has nurtured me for twenty years to join another code – an emerging small business who have its vision for an exciting future. While I’m still playing a similar game on a similar field, moving out of a Principal role in a school into the world of consulting is a whole new ball game. It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, and it’s a massive challenge. I’ve had what would be considered a very short pre-season, and I’m on a very steep learning curve with new colleagues, new systems, new ways of working and learning what is essentially a whole new ball game. It’s quite overwhelming when you think about it!

As teachers, we tell our students to be risk-takers. To be life-long learners. That it’s ok to make mistakes. To have a growth mindset. To have a go, do your best and keep trying. To never give up and to be resilient. These are mantras we try to instil in our students.  

As one of the newest members of Real Schools, it’s time to live the advice I’ve been sprouting to my students and colleagues for the past twenty years. To meet the challenge head-on. To embrace all the amazing experiences this opportunity will allow. To grow. To learn. When I fall down (and I will!) to dust myself off and get back up again. To learn from my colleagues. To earn their respect. Not to disappoint them. To get better every day.

On behalf of Ricky, Wendell and Karmichael – bring it on, I say!!!