Like many educators, the COVID-19 virus has caused a disruption to normal routine, work and our society. Everyone has had to adjust and for me, this has included leading the work of a school. As we near the end of the school year, I have had many thoughts of “what this year could have been”. The positive start in August, hard work and collective efforts of so many was halted overnight. It has caused me great struggle as the focus of our work has been stopped as a result of the quarantine. This struggle has led to frustration, self-doubt and even despair on my part. Sharing this with you is a risk, but it is the honest assessment of how I felt at different points in recent weeks.
This raw emotion has occurred as I remind myself I still must lead the staff I serve, our instructional work and our school community. Others depend upon me, both professionally and personally. It has been challenging and over the course of the 6-8 weeks of quarantine, at times, to be honest it has felt defeating. But with renewed purpose and vigor, I have learned how to navigate through this struggle and move forward to a better future that I can control. These challenges have taught me to recognize “the struggle is real” and “what I have learned from failures”. In this blog post I want to share some of the struggles and my learnings as a hope to you that we have much in common and the more we learn from and with each other, then the better we can each fulfill our happiness and grow as leaders. As I remind myself, “we all have failures and those failures don’t define us, they refine us.”
What are the struggles
When a person has a struggle it is human nature to have self doubt and ask questions. Personally, this struggle impacted me in the following ways:
- I started to believe that our work no longer had a purpose.
- I lost sight of the most important part of my work, which is taking care of others and helping them through the same struggles that I was facing.
- I lost a balance between my personal and professional life by not finding enough time for self care and time to find inner peace.
- I needed to find time for my professional growth of reading, listening and learning from others but was too busy to find this important part of each day.
- I lost sight of the most important part of each day is what is happening right then, right in front of me.
After much reflection and many long walks and exercising opportunities, I did some deep thinking and made some very real observations. I recognized I was being impacted by so many things that were outside of my control. This included the negativity in some social media and other sources, the demands that I felt were “all upon my shoulders were my sole responsibility” and that I had to have all the answers. In short, I kept looking back at “why did this happen” where instead I should have been looking forward to “how can we grow from this experience and be better (not bitter)”. From these failures that I had, I learned some pivotal reminders that all learners, especially leaders, must remember and model in their daily life.
What I learned from the failures
- Give yourself grace, be okay with not knowing the answer but asking the right questions.
- Don’t be bitter due to the situation but focus on getting better which starts with my mindset.
- Be intentional on what I can control and where I place my time through my efforts, actions and behaviors.
- Show others gratitude through real appreciation and help them feel valued; this will give me significance and help drive the “why” or purpose of our work.
- Focus on the “here and now” by seizing the moment and make each day the best day.
- When others are upset towards me for things outside of my control and “go low” and use negativity, then I should “go high”, be positive, and remain optimistic.
By refocusing on the right work which is to Serve – Lead – Inspire, I was able to “right the ship” and start growing as a person and leader during quarantine. I had to adjust, and as a leader, transfer my passion, optimism and beliefs to those we work with. I recognized my greatest daily impact would be creating the positive environment and the conditions where positive change could occur. Ultimately, this is what so many educators are seeking during this time – leadership by example. An important part of leadership is action. True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to an improved school. By reflecting upon “The Struggle is Real – What I learned from failures”, you can self-analyze if you are spending efforts towards the important and right work during COVID-19. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at email@example.com