There isn’t a day that goes by in the work of a school leader that is free of challenges. The never-ending stream of problems that flow across our desks during the course of a school year can leave even the most positive and passionate leaders exhausted and depleted. Those of you who have ever served in a leadership role in any capacity know exactly what I am talking about. It is easy to get sucked into the minutia of the daily grind and fall into the trap of dealing with trivial things that drain our energy and overfill our cup.
So what can you do to provide yourselves with a little bit of reprieve and keep yourselves fresh and energized?
Empty your cup, shift your focus, and dedicate your time and energy to filling the cup of those who you were relegated to serve – your students, your staff and your community. When you fill the cup of others, your cup is filled.
I recently ran across this visual that was shared by @justintarte that reinforced how valuable the work we do can be if we are willing to look at things from a different perspective and shift our mindset. If we can learn to approach our work by thinking about how we conduct ourselves as leaders by seeing things through a different lens, then we can serve as an example by refilling our cup with what really matters in a more positive and effective way.
- Reflect vs. Deflect – At the heart of every problem is a conversation to be had. We cannot fall into the trap of deflecting conversations about concerns or issues that are brought to our attention. All problems can be resolved if we are willing to have more dialogue and take more time to reflect on what is really being said. Only by taking time to pause and reflect can we truly grow as problem solvers.
- Reinvest vs. Invest – Take time to reinvest in your veteran staff members. As leaders we often get caught up in the excitement of hiring and investing in our new teachers that we forget about our veteran teachers. We must not neglect our existing staff that carry with them years of valuable experience, knowledge and wisdom that can be passed on to our next generation of teachers. Be sure you are providing meaningful, ongoing, professional development opportunities for them as well and using their talents to help grow and develop your new teachers.
- Aspire vs. Inspire – If you set out to inspire others to be great, you will not be successful unless you yourself aspire for greatness. You must aspire so you can inspire! Often times as leaders we desire to make an impact on those around us, but we find ourselves falling short. The truth is it takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable to make the impact we truly wish to make. To be exemplar, we must model what it means to exist and risk if we aim to aspire so we can inspire.
- Act vs. React – The surest way of losing the confidence of your team is by failing to act. Often times we fall victim to not making a decision for fear of making the wrong decision. The irony is that by not making a decision, you are making a decision – the decision to not act! Unfortunately, we then find ourselves in reaction mode based on initial indecision. This can create a feeling of frustration on the part of your team and if done with regularity, damage your credibility as an effective leader. There is nothing wrong with doing your due diligence (in fact I recommend it) in gathering information before making a decision, but then act on it so you don’t find yourself reacting unnecessarily.
As leaders, we feel a tremendous moral obligation to work until the work is done. We worry about what others will think about the quality of our work or whether or not we are the right person for the job. But perhaps we should quit worrying about what the attitude of others is about the work we do and shift our focus to our own attitude and our own mindsets.
After all, leadership is not about what others expect of us, but rather what we expect of ourselves.
I think it’s time for a refill……
“Remember, alone we can be an exemplar, but together we can be exemplary.”