What do you do when things don’t go your way?
Do you blame others? Do you complain? Do you defend your actions?
This time of year in education is always a time of change. The addition and subtraction of sections at certain grade levels; teachers retiring or moving to new positions; and course offerings changing usually create feelings of discomfort. Sometimes the changes that we are faced with are not ones we wanted or planned for. And, let’s be honest, teachers love a good plan. Often, when that plan doesn’t go our way, we don’t like it.
I’m guilty of not liking certain changes. No matter how much I push myself to think differently, embrace the journey and dream big; sometimes when change doesn’t go my way, I get upset. But, just like you, I have a choice. Will I stomp my foot and throw a little fit…sometimes I will. (I’m not proud of it.) But, will I allow myself to hold on to those feelings and continue to blame, complain and defend? Absolutely not.
This week it may be true that I didn’t get my way. And, maybe, just maybe, I let myself fall below the line while I spent a few minutes (okay longer than that) on autopilot as I complained. But, I had to press pause and snap myself out of it. So, after I got my complaining out of my system, I decided to look at my new situation as a learning experience, an opportunity, a new challenge that would help me learn and grow. It’s not easy to keep this positive mindset. But, I know that I control the story I tell myself. I’m not going to live with a victim mentality. I’m going to embrace my challenges. I’m going to pick myself up and continue on the journey to ELITE.
What will you do when you are challenged? What will you do when things don’t go your way?
When I was a little girl I was often referred to as “bossy”. I wanted things my way. I was assertive. I enjoyed having a plan and insisted that everyone followed it. I wanted to give orders using my microphone.
As I grew up, I started to feel really bad about being called “bossy”. And, in elementary school I became very quiet, shy and unsure of myself. (Those of you who know me now are most certainly surprised to hear of this shy phase.) Looking back now, I know that being referred to as “bossy” made me feel unsure of myself. I didn’t want to be a “boss”. And, I certainly didn’t want to be called “bossy,” but deep within me was a desire to be a leader.
It wasn’t until high school that the leader in me began to be cultivated. It happened naturally as I played sports and was part of various organizations and teams. But, even as I began to embrace my desire to lead, I still felt like a “boss” and I really didn’t like that. As I continued through college and then on to my teaching career I began to study the leaders around me. I learned lesson from them. Surprisingly, some of the most important lessons I learned came from the least effective leaders. I learned what leadership wasn’t. Only then, could I really begin to hone my own leadership skills. A few years into my teaching career, I was blessed to work with many inspirational leaders in Hilliard City School. These leaders helped me reflect on my skills, gave me constructive feedback and most importantly believed that I could be an inspirational leader.
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to lead an entire school! I didn’t think I was ready and it turns out we’re never really ready. I’m so glad that I accepted the challenge. It turns out that the best way to learn about leadership is to be one.
While, my journey to ELITE continues and my journey through leadership continues; I feel like I’m ready to share what leadership has taught me in hopes that all of the leaders who read this will share their leadership lessons with me:
What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your leadership lessons.
Have you ever bought something and then been told by the cashier that you’ve been selected to complete a survey about your customer service experience? I get these surveys on the bottoms of my receipts all the time. Though I rarely, if ever, complete them.
Two weeks ago I purchased a new car. After spending what seemed like a lifetime at the car dealership negotiating a price that I hoped was reasonable, I was finally ready to sign mountains of paperwork. My salesman, Rick, shook my hand and said “It was great working with you today, in a few days you’ll get a survey and we ask that you answer each question by saying you’re completely satisfied.” I smiled and said, “Oh, okay.” Rick walked away to tell the finance department that I was ready to sign more paperwork. As I waited I couldn’t help by replay his words in my mind. “Answer each question saying you’re completely satisfied?” I was shocked, why would anyone ever tell someone what to mark on a survey?
Soon I walked into the next office to sign more papers. There, I was offered all kinds of extra insurance and warranty plans that I didn’t really need. I kindly listened to all of the sales pitches and signed papers again. When it was finally time to leave, the nice lady in this second office said, “I want to remind you that you’ll be getting a survey in a few days. Please be sure to click the box all the way to the left to indicate that you’re completely satisfied with your experience.” At this point, I had been at the car dealership for 5 hours, I wanted to ask her why she felt she needed to tell me how to rate my experience. But, instead, I said, “Okay, thank you so much for all of your help.” A few days later when I played a voice message on my phone. It was from the dealership. This time a person was calling to check to see how I was enjoying my car. At the end of the message he said, “And remember to check completely satisfied when you get the survey about your service.”
What does feedback mean to you? Sure, it’s great to receive positive feedback. But, whether the feedback we receive is positive or negative isn’t what matters. What really matters is what we do with the feedback. Do we just pretend like everyone is “completely satisfied” all the time? Or, do we accept honest feedback with an open mind and growth mindset? Do we want to grow or do we want to maintain the status quo?
Accepting feedback, especially critical feedback, isn’t always easy. When we are open to feedback we have to be prepared to make changes, do more work and accept that our ideas are not perfect. But, think about what things would be like if we simply asked everyone to tell us they were “completely satisfied”. Where would we be personally and professionally? What opportunities would we have missed?
On our journey to ELITE, feedback is crucial. We don’t ever really want to be satisfied or even “completely satisfied”. Instead we want to constantly be moving forward. As Tim Kight says, "We must strive to be better today than we were yesterday and we must be better tomorrow than we were today." The feedback we receive along the way is what will continue to propel us forward.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.