WELCOME BACK TO SLOW-DOWN SUNDAY, WHERE PRINCIPAL-MATTERS! ENCOURAGES SCHOOL LEADERS EVERYWHERE TO BE THEIR MOST EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT BY USING RESEARCH-BASED, TIME-PROVEN STRATEGIES TO SLOW IT DOWN. HERE’S THIS WEEK’S INSTALLMENT!
Dear School Leader,
I was like you before. For fifteen years as a principal and assistant principal, I was just like you. I was committed to doing a good job and was going to make sure that if things weren’t great, it wasn’t because I didn’t give it my all. I was willing to be up early and go to bed late as need be.
As technology evolved, just as you have done, I became more and more able to keep up with everything, all the time, from anywhere. (note; I love technology so please don’t think I’m headed on an anti-technology rant) That allowed me to physically be away from school and still be in touch with anyone who needed me to solve their problems, answer their questions, or dispense permission, wisdom, or knowledge. I thought that would be great; I could be connected all of the time and still be with my family, friends, or away from school.
Here’s what I didn’t know, or if I did I failed to recognize or understand: just because you are physically away from school doesn’t mean that you are mentally and emotionally away.
When you are preoccupied with the school that you are leading (or any job you are doing for that matter) you aren’t leaving space for anything else. We know from cognitive and neuroscience research that you need time and space so your brain can process. If you are preoccupied, you aren’t providing that time and space. No matter how rockin’ you think you are (and may actually be!), it will eventually catch up with you. If you practice moderation, you can manage it on your own. If you don’t, someone else will have to do it for you.
If you’re a school leader, I know you’d rather just have it straight, so that’s about as straight as it comes. Check yourself before your wreck yourself.
In short, you can’t think about school all the time. It’s not just for your health (that should be enough) but it’s also about your performance. The quickest way to get blind spots is to lose your perspective. You do so when you go in too deep. Yes, you need to do a good job and this is going to take a LOT of your time; if it takes all of your energy, thoughts, and time it’ll catch up to you at some point. Your performance will falter, your perspective will dim, and if severe enough, it’ll affect your health.
It’s not too late to fix it though! You need a hobby; you need time away; you need to put your phone/tablet/computer down for blocks of time. Practice the 7-1-1 that I preach to folks like you (7 hours of sleep a night, 1 day each week go home when normal people do, maybe 4-4:30, and 1 weekend day when you shut. it. down.
Take care of yourself. We need you. Your school needs you. Your family and friends need you. Give your mind the rest it needs to be the leader and person you were meant to be.