Take some risks | Daily News

Take some risks

Isipathana College, Colombo 5
Speech from the newly appointed Head Boy
Speech from the newly appointed Head Boy

Head Boy of Isipathana College, Colombo 5, Devin Sriyarathna believes that it is important to respect diversity but more than anything he knows the importance of good judgment. He knows that his judgment is important. Perfect Prefect features Sriyarathna, who believes in fellowship and unity.

It is very easy to criticize the person who has to do the job. For those who are not leaders, it can seem like an easy job. Sriyarathna feels that a great leader is one who can foresee future problems and who can come up with effective solutions. Indeed, Sriyarathna’s words are certainly meaningful at a time when the world has seen an upheaval in Afghanistan. His comments come at a time when Covid19 has claimed the lives of nearly 4.7 million people.

“A leader is one who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. According to my point of view, a leader should take risks. He should not be afraid to take risks. Also I feel that a leader should be pragmatic. I firmly believe that a leader should give those around him/her a sense of security,” says Sriyarathna.

His patriotism is fervent. He believes that as Sri Lankans, we should love our country. He believes that it is our duty to serve our country. We have heard so many people use the phrase – ‘We must be united’. That phrase alone means nothing. Yet if we take this in the context of 9/11, then it takes on a very different meaning. Then the words evoke emotions. If you move to USA, you will meet people of many races. This is the same everywhere in the world. And after 9/11 they looked to each other. In the face of a common enemy they were united. This is the love of the homeland that Sriyarathna possesses.

“Being a Sri Lankan, I care about the needs of other Sri Lankans. I believe that we all should defend our country. This is the spirit of common brotherhood or sisterhood. As citizens of Sri Lanka we have many rights, but we also have responsibilities towards our community and country. I also need to point out that in any organization or team solidarity is of utmost importance.”

Sriyarathna, over and over again says that outer appearances do not matter when it comes to leadership. The way you speak and behave will ultimately reveal who you are. He says that leaders should have integrity. As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, ‘The essence of leadership is holding your people to the highest possible standard while taking the best possible care of them.’ This is something that even he, Sriyarathna believes in. Leaders who lead through fear, create a kind of culture that is marked by terror, timidity, and low morale. This is not the kind of leader Sriyarathna aspires to be.

In our interview, Sriyarathna speaks a lot about leadership. Leadership is important because critical junctures are turning points that alter the course of the evolution of society. There are many types of leaders in history. There are dictators who rule with an iron fist (some historians say that Saddam Hussein was one). Then there are those leaders who were loved by their men and feared by their enemies. And then there are of course Spiritual Leaders. Such leaders are rare. Buddha and Jesus never once used force. But their message has endured for more than 2000 years.

“My biggest inspiration in life is Lord Buddha. According to my point of view, Lord Buddha is one of the greatest leaders in history. Even after 2500 years, people still believe in his teachings. He certainly had a magnetic personality, yet people were drawn to his teachings. I think when it comes to qualities he is the ideal role model,” said Sriyarathna.

“As a leader you will be given many responsibilities. As a leader you have to know your people and look out for their welfare. It is vital that you never compromise your ethics. I believe a code of ethics is very important, both for you and your team members. Do not procrastinate. When you leave school and step into society, you will meet groups of people more diverse than those you have encountered at school. You will meet people from different social and ethnic backgrounds. You will meet people who share different ideologies. You may even have to go to work overseas. So you need to respect their beliefs and traditions. You need to respect this diversity. There may be disagreements, so you need to trust your judgment,” said Sriyarathna.

He added that maybe along the way you may encounter pessimists. But do not be disheartened. Pursue your dreams and focus on your goals. Sriyarathna says that you more than anyone else know what you are capable of, so do not underestimate yourself and always remember who you are. Again your judgement is so important in those situations.

He explains that in the middle of the Isipathana school logo, is a lamp and a book. The lighted lamp symbolizes wisdom. The petals symbolize prosperity. Their motto says ‘Strive with Determination’. “Our logo and school motto mean a lot to Isipathanians. When I wear the badge with the school logo, I feel so proud to be a son of Mother Isipathana. We all obey the same set of rules and the code of ethics. We do our utmost to make Mother Isipathana proud.”

Sriyarathna points out that soft skills and people skills are so important in our lives. This is what the youth really need to stay ahead in the extremely competitive workplace. His message to the youth is to be principled citizens. If you leave school with a set of principles then you will never be led astray by bad friends. We live in a world where drug addiction is a huge problem. He puts it succinctly by saying – ‘nature treats and punishes us at the same time like a boomerang for everything we do.’

“I really want to be an Engineer in the future. Furthermore, I would like to invent something that is useful for the common people. This involves hard work and I am ready to put in the hard work. This is one of my many dreams. I also feel that I have to give back to my school, so I hope to guide young Isipathanians and help them succeed in life. I want to say a big thank you to my dear Principal and my school teachers for helping me to become who I am today,” concluded Sriyarathna.

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