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The end of something

Starting all over again

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to consider how they might develop a rolling plan for their future (SEAL theme: Motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and five readers.
  • Find an image of a Sigmoid curve and have the means to display it during the assembly.
  • Have available the song ‘Surfin’ safari’ by The Beach Boys and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.


Leader So it’s all over. The biggest sporting event held in Scotland for many years has come to a spectacular end. Hampden Park was the venue for a closing ceremony showcasing all that’s best in Scottish culture. I wonder what were the highlights of the Games for you?

Take some of the students’ responses, covering as wide a variety of sports and other events as possible.

So what do we do now?

Reader 1 I think we should all take a deep breath, sit down on the sofa and relax.

Reader 2 Alternatively, we could enjoy the highlights again – make the experience last a little bit longer.

Reader 3 Don’t you think we should allow ourselves to bask in the light of our success? We did a pretty good job of organizing the event and there were some sparkling performances.

Reader 4 Surely we should be thinking about the future. What’s the legacy, the ongoing benefit from the Games, going to be?

Reader 5Speaking of the future, I’m starting to look forward already to the next Commonwealth Games. Where is it going to be held?

Leader The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held in Gold Coast City, Queensland, Australia. I wonder how many of us will be there? Maybe some of us can even make it as competitors?

Whenever something important comes to an end in our lives, there are many different ways in which we can react. If it’s been a tiring experience, then it probably is a good idea to take a break, have a rest, recuperate. This happens at the end of a sporting season, after a music or drama production, after the last exam, even when a significant relationship breaks down. We need to do something different, change our routine, recharge our batteries. If we tried to carry on at the same high intensity, then we’d probably either burn out or become stale.

As we relax, it’s not wrong to also run through the positives from our experience. These achievements give an indication of what we can do and may very well suggest our potential is greater than we realized. If we bask in the glow of that success for too long, however, there’s a chance it may turn into a plateau. Instead, just as we can look forward to the next Commonwealth Games, so we can begin to plan for the rest of our lives, with all the big events they may contain.

I want to introduce you to the Sigmoid curve.

Display image of a Sigmoid curve.

It looks like a wave and, like a wave, it rises until it reaches its peak, then it begins to break. Social scientists have used the Sigmoid curve as an image of our lives. We commit ourselves to some project and grow as we develop that project. Then, when the project’s peaked or has reached its potential, we start to go downhill, in terms of energy, motivation or ideas.

What we need to do is create a new curve, a new project, a new ambition. The only problem is that it’s quite hard to create a new wave when you’ve begun to go downhill. Ideally, the best time to start planning the new wave is just before you reach the peak of the old one. So, athletes who were with us in Glasgow had already begun their plans for the Olympic Games, European Championships and so on before the Commonwealth Games had even begun.

Meanwhile, what can we do?

There’s a common saying: ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’ My experience is that, if I remain on the sofa enjoying my memories, the door remains closed. I want to suggest a new version: ‘When one door closes, kick open another!’

Does that sound a bit violent? You may be right, but what I’m suggesting is that new opportunities, new ambitions, new projects need a kick start. We need to be proactive.

Time for reflection

Jesus told a story about a group of men who were each given an amount of money to look after. One man simply hid the money away and sat on the sofa. The others invested the money in different ways so that its value increased. Who do you think was praised by Jesus?

In the story, the money is a symbol for the resources, the potential, that there is in each one of us. We may have achieved a lot, we may have achieved a little, but what about the future? Do we sit on the sofa or do we kick open a few doors?

So, who’s ready to ride a new wave? 

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the enjoyment we experience when we succeed, do something well, complete a project.
May we never allow that experience to become a plateau.
Show us what lies behind the doors that we see in front of us.


‘Surfin’ safari’ by The Beach Boys

Publication date: August 2014   (Vol.16 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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