Sometimes we bounce back. Other times we fail forward. There are even times when we find ourselves standing still. What I am learning in this season is how to embrace whatever state I find myself in.
This year has been a whirlwind to say the least. On March 7, 2020, I thought I was headed into a 2-week long Spring Break, courtesy of the difference in my & my children’s break schedules. Little did I know that by Monday I would be working 12hr days at a minimum as we all prepared to shift to our new instructional world. Here we are, over a year later, and I’m still plugging along, full steam ahead.
Leadership has looked different for me this past year, more different than ever before. Typically, I categorize myself as a very specific type of leader. However in the last year, I have had to become much more flexible in my leadership style. If I had to compare this season of leadership to anything, it would be parenting. In the same way that my children often need different things from me, the people that I serve also need different things from me.
Flexibility isn’t something that has been at the top of my list of “most important” leadership qualities. Don’t get me wrong. It’s always been top 10, but this year it has graduated to top 3! Flexibility is what allows me to bounce back, fail forward, and stand still. It’s what gives me the courage to advocate and the strength to be silent. It’s become something like a superpower over the last year. But most importantly, it’s muscle that continues to strengthen as it is used.
I encourage each of you reading this to take some time to practice flexibility in your own leadership journey. Rigidity is a thing of the past. And if we are going to be our best and make sure students receive the best of us, we are all going to have to be a bit more flexible.
I have a confession. I’m a closet poet, and I’ve always been a huge fan of haiku. The way that it forces us to be thoughtful, intentional and succinct is magical. What do you want to say it? What is the best way to share it? Who is your audience? What mood do you want to convey? Great…now take that and make it fit into 17 syllables.
I’ve written several different things during the past six months, some lengthy and some fiery and others passionate and melancholy. It can all be summed up into this one piece that I have chosen to share with you today. May it provoke you to reflection & action.
Time flies when you’re pushed
Beyond natural limits
Life is but a dream
Work/Life balance is a myth. I know, you don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. The myth of work/life balance is based on the lie/premise that you can control either. And the truth is that you can’t. The real secret is:
**turns head to see who’s watching**
Healthy boundaries are vital to living a complete, fulfilling life. What does that look like? Well, I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time studying to find that exact answer. For me, practicing healthy boundaries looks like flexibility, self-advocacy, knowing when to say no, asking for help when needed, not feeling guilty for making certain things a priority in your life….and I could go on forever. But the root of healthy boundaries, for me anyway, can be summed up in one compound word: self-awareness.
Do you know your triggers? your limits? your strengths? your areas of growth? your likes/dislikes? Do you know the why behind your likes & dislikes? Do you understand why you continue to react to certain situations in the same way? All of this, and more, constitutes self-awareness. And the path towards self-awareness looks different for everybody. One day, I’ll share my full journey with you, but for now I’ll just share the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- The more self-awareness you have, the better leader you are. How can you ask people to follow you if you don’t even know who they are following?
- You cannot change what you are not willing to acknowledge. None of us are perfect, and we will never be. We all have areas where we can grow & improve. But that growth cannot happen if you/we refuse to acknowledge that it is needed.
- Everything is a decision, including doing nothing at all. And every decision has a consequence, whether positive or negative. That is true for all parts of life, including personal growth.
- Understanding how certain situations can act as a trigger for me allows me to be able to respond and not react. That is where my “super power” lies in how I handle situations in all aspects of life. Ask yourself “why does ______ usually cause me to ______?” Explore that question and sit with the answer. Talk it through with your therapist or a trusted friend. Do the work to become a better you. You’ll eventually arrive at, “_____ used to cause me to ______, but know I choose to ________ instead.”
- Self-awareness is a continual process. You never arrive at a point where you are so self-aware that you no longer need to do the work. You are always changing, growing and evolving into a new person (or at least you should be). Therefore, you must continue to work the process.
I encourage each of you to focus the next phase of your leadership journey on learning & understanding yourself. I guarantee you it will be the best investment that you will ever make!!
Until next time….