Early Burn Out…

low batteries

As the new school year is upon us, I find myself almost burning out instead of charging up.  There are certain logistical aspects of the school year that make me want to run and hide.  To be clear, it’s not the kids. It’s NEVER the kids.  It’s the redundant questions about things that I have absolutely no control over.  And it’s the most frustrating thing ever.

I must admit, I struggled when deciding whether or not to write this post. There’s a fine line between venting frustrations and sharing lessons learned. There is also the concern that people will read my words and become offended or misinterpret something that I said.  But honestly, that is a risk that I am willing to take.  I have always been a person of honesty and transparency, almost to a fault.  Telling the truth should not be political. And if my experiences can help even one person in their own leadership journey, than the risk is definitely worth it.  You see, leadership development classes don’t teach you how to navigate the political landmines that are ever present in the K-12 landscape.  EVERYTHING is political, and has the potential to be career suicide…or so people would have you to believe.

Let me get back to the point of this post.  I’m frustrated. I work hard. I am essentially a K-12 project manager with one exception; I don’t have any autonomy over most of the projects that I manage. Most of the time, I’m okay with that, but there are specific times of the year when that becomes extremely frustrating. The beginning of the school year is one of those times, and I’ll explain why. One of my areas of expertise is implementing systems and procedures that make redundant processes more efficient. It’s a gift, what can I say! (lol)  And I become extremely frustrated when I know how to fix an issue, have made suggestions about how to fix an issue, but I don’t actually have the authority to fix the issue.  As a result, I find myself here at the start of another school year dealing with the same problem that could have been resolved 2 years ago. (Yes, that says 2 years.)

I would love to tell you that I have learned how to NOT get frustrated with the situation, but that would be an absolute lie. I am only human. I am, however, learning how not to let my feelings of frustration cloud my professional judgement. I am learning how to not let my frustration change my views and opinions of the people that I work with.  I am learning how to not let my frustration affect my relationships with my colleagues (trust me…this one has taken the most work.)  There is no magic bullet for learning how to process through these (or any other) emotions.  Everybody is different, and every situation is unique. I would encourage you to discover what works for you.  For me it varies. Some days, the right music playlist can take away all of my worries. On other days, I listen to a podcast or Ted Talk that helps me become grounded and remember why I started down this road in the first place.  And of course, there are still days that I choose to sit in my feelings because you can’t process or work through emotions that you don’t allow yourself to feel.

No matter how you or I choose to process through these feelings, the one thing we must remember is that we have to work through them in order to function at our best.  So here’s to processing frustration, and rekindling the fire before school starts. Our students and teachers deserve my best when they show up, and I’m willing to do the work that will ensure that’s exactly what they get!

The Best Is Yet to Come

2019 has been quite the year. When I last posted in March, I was sitting in a hospital room, taking care of my father. He was on bed rest after minor complications from surgery.  I literally stayed with him at the hospital between 22-24 hours each day for a week. That wonderful Spring Forward nonsense robbed me of a precious hour of sleep, and a precious hour with my dad.  I went on to spend the next 6-8 weeks organizing his home health and eventually hospice care. He died on a Saturday morning in early May, surrounded by my mom and my sisters.  There was little that I could do from 1100 miles away, so I went to work.

 

Yes — you read that correctly.  I went to work.  I was completely emotionally overwhelmed for more than the obvious reasons.  Let me explain.  Two days prior to my father’s death, my cousin suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. So not only did I go to work,  before heading home I went to the sit in the Memorial Hermann Hospital Neuro ICU waiting room room with the rest of my Houston family to find out his prognosis.  He fought for 3.5 long, hard weeks.  He died on a Thursday morning in late May.

 

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering what this has to do with leadership. I can explain. During what was likely the most difficult few months of my life,  I witnessed the fruit of my labor, including the time spent focusing on developing leadership in others, cross training, and coaching.  As a result, I learned the most important leadership lesson of my career, if not the most important lesson of them all.  High functioning teams are built on trust & communication.  That’s all I relied on the entire spring semester.  Not training, not professional development, just trust and communication. I was open & transparent with my team, and I trusted them to get the job done.

 

Every day that I went to work, my team stepped up and led.  I retained “ownership” of about 4 items, and I delegated the rest.  Delegation in it’s truest sense means that others have full ownership over the task or project.  And I couldn’t be more proud of the way things turned out.  We finished this year stronger than ever, as a department and as a team.

 

As I sit here writing this post, I’m also trying not to acknowledge the fact that today is the 22nd anniversary of the day my brother was killed.  But through it all, I smile because I know that I will be okay.  Again, if you’ve made it this far thank you! If you believe in prayer, please keep me lifted.  If you believe in positive vibes, please send them my way.  I’ve finally taken some time off, so I’m going to go enjoy the next week with my husband and my boys before I return to work on the 8th.

 

The best is yet to come! Happy Summer Everyone!

 

 

Spring Forward during Spring Break?!?!

Warning: This post really isn’t as much about leadership as it is about me ranting.  But if you stay with me, I promise you’ll at least be entertained.

spring forward boo

Once again, during Spring Break I will be required by the archaic powers that be to set my clock forward one (1) hour for Daylight Savings Time. WHY??  Why during the one week that I have off to rest and recharge do I have to give up an entire hour to some made up practice that was only ever intended as a way to exploit the American worker?  That doesn’t seem very fair to me.  That gives me one less hour for self care, one less hour of fun, one less hour of sleep….I could go on forever.

If you asked him, my husband would tell you that I have always hated the concept of springing forward and falling back.  Part of it is because I can never remember when we are going forwards and backwards.  Honestly, who can keep up anyway.  The other part of my rationale, however, is that there’s no good reason for this anymore.  Thanks to the modern workplace and this crazy little concept of electricity, we no longer work by daylight hours only.  Why we continue to do this ritual every year is mind boggling. It’s the equivalent of “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and we all know that is never a good reason to continue to do anything.

I want my hour back.  I want the time that I need to properly care for myself so that I can continue to pour into everyone else.  But mostly, I just want another hour of sleep. Lord knows I need it!!

If you’re reading this and you’re a fellow educator, I encourage you to use your remaining hours to do something for yourself!  Take care of you, so that we can continue to take care of the future of our great nation!

Happy Spring Break!!