Just finished watching Ron Howard’s documentary on the touring history of The Beatles, titled “Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years.” (If you like music, documentaries or if you’ve ever heard of the Beatles you might enjoy watching). It takes you from the beginning of their playing days in Liverpool and features the iconic arrival to the United States on February 7, 1964. You get to watch great clips from their travels and get a real glimpse of the unprecedented nature of Beatlemania.
When you see the scenes of the band’s initial arrival in New York, you see pure joy. Each of the members were ecstatic to be in the US. The reception was overwhelming and without precedent. Pictured of them during this time showed their enthusiasm and enjoyment.
You also get to see scenes from the “Last Concert” at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. (although they played together unannounced on the rooftop of their offices in London on January 30, 1969). The picture below shows their exit from the event via an armored truck.
What does this have to do with you and being a principal?!?
The Beatles quit doing concerts at the height of popularity and with millions of dollars (or pounds) on the table because they no longer found joy in what they were doing. They went from boundless enthusiasm about their work to dread and unhappiness.
So, seriously, are you enjoying being a principal? If you’ve been doing for a while, do you still have the same joy in the work?
In watching The Beatles documentary, it was interesting to hear band members talk about how much they loved playing concerts in the beginning. It was because they were doing what they loved doing. Little by little, the craziness of it all crept in. They couldn’t perform in arenas or coliseums because of the demand for tickets (and the huge numbers of people who remained outside of those arenas without tickets). That forced them to go to ball parks and stadia where, in the 60s, we didn’t have the science of sound quite developed to today’s standards. Basically, they were playing in front of huge crowds who actually couldn’t hear them. They hated it. No joy, no more concerts.
Today’s principal doesn’t have those identical issues as the Fab Four did, but it is easy to face similar concerns.
Often, I talk to principals who tell me that what they’re doing isn’t what they thought they’d be doing. They wanted to help kids, make a difference, but there are a lot of distractions.
That’s why I hope that you’ll make a real priority on joy. If you aren’t finding joy, purpose, and fulfillment in your job, you may be lip-synching before you know it.
Despite all of the challenges of being a modern-era principal, there are reasons to love it. There are very few things that you could be doing with your time that have the potential to do good that this job has. You can challenge people to greatness. You can keep a student from dropping out of school and basically do a re-direct in their life trajectory. You can bring hope to your community. You can restore joy and purpose to a teacher in her final years of her career. You can do so much!
What did you get into this job to do? What brings you joy in this work? Don’t lose sight of what you got into this for in the first place. Be careful of getting so busy that you miss the fulfillment and joy of this job.
This is the final installment of our Sunday series about balance. Getting balance right as the school leader is one of your most critical challenges. Please take a look at the whole series under the category of “Balance” here at Principal Matters!
Examining balance and getting it right means that you look not just what you do at work, but who you are as the whole leader. That examination means that you look at yourself and your performance in several areas, including the following:
- How you relate to others in your school “universe”;
- How you perform and accomplish the tasks necessary in your job;
- How you relate to those important to you in your life away from school;
- How you interact with the world separate from your school and your home;
- How you are developing habits that promote short-term and long-term health and energy;
- How you are growing professionally and personally; and
- How happy, joyful, and fulfilled you are.
It’s important that you learn to balance within each of these areas, as well as balance all seven together.