Over the last year, the LeadWell team have been busy getting to know what issues and priorities are most commonly affecting senior leaders in schools, and shaping our services so that we can provide the best support. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we discovered a range of pressures and issues including how to lead well when time seems to be the scarcest resource, how to step confidently into a leadership role, how to maintain a healthy balance between home and work commitments, and how to build resourcefulness in preparation for change. One of the things that’s clear is most school leaders are under increasing pressure to do more with less. So for this kick-starter blog, I thought I’d suggest some things you might want to STOP doing in order to make better progress:
- Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen, and focus instead on what you do want to happen - Thinking positively and optimistically is at the forefront of every great success story, because it guides us to notice opportunities to move forwards. If you awake every morning with thoughts about what needs to happen today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re making those happen all through the day.
- Stop putting your own needs on the back burner - The most tiring thing is losing yourself in the process of serving others’ needs too much, and forgetting that you have needs too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. Resourceful leadership is fuelled by being on your best form.
- Stop trying to be someone you’re not – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you into someone else. There will always be someone stronger, someone smarter, someone faster than you, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will find the real you magnetic. Authenticity is at the core of sustainable leadership and wellbeing.
- Stop berating yourself for your old mistakes - We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day, your future, and your school. Leadership involves becoming wiser as a result of past mistakes, not less confident.
- Stop thinking you’re not ready - It’s uncommon to feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most opportunities to grow and achieve more force us to go beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally ready at first. Leadership almost always involves taking action when you’re still not ready, or completely informed.
- Stop trying to compete against everyone else - Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own personal best every day – success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF daily.
- Stop spending time with the wrong people - It’s counterproductive to regularly spend time with people who suck the energy and joy out of you, or who simply make no real contribution to your own life or needs. Find a way to ease away from the takers and find new people who uplift and support you. The most successful leaders surround themselves with people who encourage them, and help them to grow.
- Stop trying to make things perfect - The world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.
- Stop worrying so much - There is a saying that says ‘Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy’. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in a week, a month, or a year?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about. Worrying also tends to lead us towards an un-resourceful state, and so can be counterproductive in real practical terms.
- Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself - You may not agree with everything that comes your way, or what you are tasked to do, and it may be tough. But when you reflect on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past, you’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better understanding, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile, and resolve to rise to the circumstances you find yourself in. Know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday because thing haven’t always gone your way.
Often, when we stop for a few moments and think about how our energy and time is being stolen, or given away to unproductive or unhelpful habits, we spot opportunities to make changes that can be really helpful. Maybe one or more of these suggestions resonates with you. If so, perhaps today is the day to take action?