Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Leadership Roller Coaster

Forgive me dear reader, for I have been remiss. (If you are not a regular reader you may not have noticed, incidentally why are you not a regular reader?  Do be a dear and go sign up - somewhere on the sidebar there is an email link and then you won't miss out!)  Now the plugs out of the way, back to why I have been a little remiss.   It has been a little while since I last blogged.

In fairness, there has been a reason.   I have put myself into a digital time out.

I have purposely given myself a little bit of time away from Four Seasons - not because I do not want to blog anymore or because I have nothing to say (quite the contrary), but more because my life has been a little hectic and between the hectic moments I have been suffering a bit of an identify and self doubt rut.  In some respects, it is similar to being in a style rut but instead, it is more of an identify come professional rut.

Ironically, I have more partially written blog posts and ideas for posts, recorded in my notes app on my phone than you can shake a pen at, and I have written the best posts you will never read pretty much every night as I lie in bed seeking the solace of sleep.  Last night I 'ghost wrote' three fabulous and profound posts that alas have escaped me in the wake of a fast approaching day.  So, if thinking and crafting in my head was a paid job, I think I would be quite self sufficient.

It is not just one thing but a series of little things that have found themselves snowballing.  Life in the leadership fast lane can be fabulous, but it can also be an all consuming, draining and not always fun roller coaster of 'things'.  Somedays it feels like everyone wants a piece of you (not necessarily in a bad way) and finding the space to look outside your own reality to see the bigger picture can be a chore.  It is important to look beyond your own small seat on the roller coaster to survey the whole track, because the ability to do so gives you a perspective that is not found from a merely narrow place.  Term three felt a little bit like the roller coaster just kept on speeding up, and finding the time (actually, it is not time so much as space) to blog made it feel like an accelerant the roller coaster just did not need!  Blogging here is my way of debriefing, and making sense of the wonderings.  For the most part, it is my reflective space.  Writing the posts in my head whilst lying in bed, irrespective of how amazing I imagine them to be, is a little less helpful than actually writing them here!

I have found this term break to be one of much reflection.  In the first week I was fortunate to attend the ACEL (Australian Council for Educational Leaders) conference in Melbourne and I have come away from that with some big wonderings (I will blog about some of those in due course).  Being away from home and outside your own country, makes your realise a few things and it gives you a space to reflect on things that weigh you down as a leader.  There were several difficult leadership moments in term three that left me in a place of 'leadership self doubt'.

In times like that I try to remember my WHY.  I went into education wanting to make a difference, and I went into educational leadership in order to make a wider difference to that which is just within a class.  When you hit a bit of a professional rut you start to wondering about the why.  I have been wondering a lot about if I have been making a difference, and what more I need to do to ensure my leadership is effective, wondering if it is effective and how do I know it is.  At ACEL, John Hattie spoke about how teachers need to 'know thy influence' but I think it is the same for leaders.  Yes, I have my 360 appraisal process, but for me, its much deeper than that.  When you hear all the expectations leaders have on them (from academics presenting at conferences, Boards of Trustees, parents and teachers - heck - everyone has an opinion) you can feel a little overwhelmed.

With all these things adding to the roller coaster of leadership self doubt, a bit of a digital blogging time out seemed in order.  I am pleased I did.  I feel like I am heading into term four a little more grounded, with a roller coaster that has had the breaks applied.  I am looking forward to being open to  what opportunities term four brings with it, and I am looking at ways to ensure the roller coaster remains balanced so it does not derail itself.  In addition I am exploring a few options to expand my creative side.  When I started Four Seasons it was meant to be more lifestyle than Leadership focused, and I am at a bit of a cross roads regarding whether to merger Four Seasons into what it was intended for (because the creative side spins my personal wheels) or leave as is, and start a different one.  I imagine I will still be wrestling with this come Christmas - happy to have your thoughts.  (For example, I am pretty sure none of you who are reading this would be remotely interested in topics such as 'Parenting a Preteen - what not to do' or 'What I bought in Melbourne - the best leather shop ever').

In the meantime, if you find yourself in your own leadership self doubt rut, don't despair.  There is always light at the end of the murky tunnel.  Here are my top 4 tips.

1. Find your WHY.  Recall what it was that bought you into leadership, reach down deep and bring it back to the forefront.  It is the WHY that drives us, and sometimes in the midst of a self doubt moment we can forget it.  Don't let the roller coaster run over your WHY.  Let it be the driver. 

2. Find your TRIBE.  Leadership can be lonely but it doesn't have to be.  You can read more about that in my blog post "Leadership Loneliness'.   Talk to someone - a trusted colleague or your partner, and remember, you are not the only person who feels this way.  That is why there are multitudes of things written about this stuff.  All of us have felt it sometime - that is why your TRIBE is important. I have written before about how important my coffee sessions with my colleagues are.  They are essential.  Do it - you will not regret it.  

3. TRUST in yourself - you have this.  Yes, there are times when it is hard or the roller coaster is flying at top speed, but remember - you have got this!  Trust yourself, trust your moral compass and believe in yourself! 

4. Set some GOALS - chunk it down, set some goals and see number 3! I have always found a good list of proactive things to work on help me sort things into perspective.  

Have a great term everyone - heres hoping the roller coaster ride is a manageable one - and remember the only person who gets hurts on a roller coaster is the one who jumps off!

You have got this!

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