As I wrote last week, my #OneWord for 2018 is QUESTION. I want to spend time this year making sure I am asking myself the right questions. In that spirit, I am going to try to focus some of my blog posts this year around questions that come up during the week – questions that cause me to reflect and think.
During the past week, I was in a conversation with a colleague, who I respect greatly, and she asked me where I felt I needed the most support in my role as a building leader. I explained that one of the hardest parts of the job is getting honest, constructive feedback. When you are the one “in charge,” it can be difficult to get people to be honest with you, especially if you are wrong. I know I have expressed to my leadership team that if they are not honest and even critical at times of my decisions then I do not need them around me. I need a support system of people who are willing to push and challenge. One of the toughest things to grapple with is asking: Am I right?
First, this is a tough question because sometimes the things we deal with are not as simple as a choice of right or wrong. Many things we deal with in schools live in a “grey area” and it takes someone giving directions and making decisions to move forward. Often times, those tough decisions fall on my shoulders. There have been many times in my career where I feel I have given guidance in the proper direction, but there have also been just as many times where I have unfortunately steered decisions the other way. In reflecting on the times where the direction has not been right, it is almost always easy to see the proper choice that, after the fact, seems to be clearly staring you in the face. It reminds me of this cartoon:
It is interesting how sometimes, the elephant can be right in the middle of the room and we ignore it, or just simply fail to even realize it is there. Believe me, I have been that idiot acting so certainly, convinced I am right, that I refused to see the elephant. I know, hindsight is 20/20, but the better I get as a leader, the better I get at seeing the elephant. It is not easy, it takes work, but the not taking the time to search for the elephant has much greater consequences than investing extra time in the search.
So back to my question for this post: Am I right?
This is not an easy question, but it is an important one to ask yourself every day. Along with asking that question, it is even more important to surround yourself with people that will give you an honest answer to the question. Regardless of your title or position, you are a leader. So, take some time to look critically at your choices this week and ask: Am I right? More importantly, if you consider yourself a leader, challenge those around by asking them to answer the same question!
Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!
2 thoughts on “Elephants”
Great post! I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately. We seem to live in a culture where asking this question implies indecisiveness, but really, I think it implies wisdom. Teaching our students to question their own ideas as they seek truth is so critical right now, and your school is fortunate to have a leader who is willing to model that.
Thanks Tim! I agree, having the ability (and maybe sometimes just the willingness) to self evaluate, listen to opinions, and be open to other perspectives is an unbelievably valuable skill.