There has never been a more difficult time to be a school educator. I am not going to take us down the road of why. We all know why and we are still living it.
And, while I do not typically think of myself as an optimist, I do believe that:
- nothing is 100% bad; and,
- there is always more good than bad.
In fact, I’ve thought a lot about this topic in my life and I have a mathematical breakdown on the matter: At a minimum, things are 51% good and 49% bad. Good always wins, even if it just barely edges it out.
Dr. Paul Imhoff, the New American Association of School Administrators (AASA) president and a current Ohio school superintendent, is even more optimistic than I — and more actionable with his optimism. Recently, he presented at the Mid-American Association of School Superintendents (MAASS) and his message was the one we all needed to hear.
Dr. Imhoff spoke about courageous leadership and said that he was hopeful. Not only does he believe that when the dust settles from the pandemic that schools and educators will be recognized among the truest of heroes, but that he also believes that these are the times which expose our own true character–one that is good, honest and true.
The man was on a roll and I just wanted to hear him preach. And, truly, if he went on much longer, I have no doubt that a veritable tent revival would have sprung. What he was saying, well, we all just wanted more of and the good news is this: we can have it.
And, here’s the thing. Imhoff spoke of more than just positivity. He spoke of action to get there. And getting there requires soul care and self care. Yes, taking care of your very soul and self. And that’s harder than it looks or sounds.
Here are three things that Dr. Imhoff does that we can each learn from and commit to right now:
- Make a three-step plan to take care of yourself
Dr. Imhoff noted that we cannot lead if we are not well. And that in order to lead, we have to make a plan — to write it down — so that we focus on self-care. His plan included three initiatives, one of which was to take a 30-minute lunch with zero interruptions. While he admitted that this one initiative was harder than he thought to accomplish, it was necessary and rewarding.
- Be accountable to your plan and hold each other accountable
Dr. Imhoff shared his goals with his leadership team. It was his way of holding himself accountable and it is a way to ask people to honor your own three goals. He encouraged them to do the same.
- Create space for being honest about the challenges
More than ever, today’s leadership requires raw honesty and authenticity. When Dr. Imhoff shared his struggles with his team he also created space for others to be open about what they are facing.
I have always committed to never giving up on myself. I don’t always succeed, but I can do three things. So can you.