Leading is a difficult task for the best of us. Some people come by the actions naturally, while others plan out their every movement through a task that may require “one in charge”. Nonetheless, in schools, one may see leadership opportunities pop up for both Teachers and Students alike, in the most unconventional moments of a day. Guiding a student through an anxiety attack, peer teaching someone how to calculate moles, or preparing to present a play to an audience; the extremes are significant. So much so, that everyone can fall within the spectrum of leadership.
So what’s the crux of my verbal spew today? It’s two-fold. I have come to a strong learning of myself in the past year and, have therefore been able to see more of the “parts” of leadership clearly. Let me explain… When I was in high school, I fancied myself as one of the “top” beans in student leadership, because of my role in student council. It was actually, a place for me to feel as though I fit in. My shyness always made me feel separate from the regular crowd. I say it often but, I was friendly with everybody, but friends with no one. Not in school at least.
My shyness came from the fact that I felt different. I knew I was not like the other students in school. My anxiety and high levels of uncontrolled energy were the two things that made me that wee bit different. I was not able to sit still for long enough to associate with people fully. When I did make friends, I smothered them. Friendships never lasted long. So, being in student council gave me purpose, tasks and jobs that made people happy. I would give to those around me by “being of service”. In a backhanded way, my role in student council allowed me to be closer to people. Therefore, being in “Leadership”; I thought myself a leader.
As job placements shuffled over the years, I have been placed in to roles that lead more. Teacher. Leader of classroom. Coach. Leader of team to win. etc… My first few years of teaching and “leading” had me spinning. My energy and enthusiasm masked my fears of failing. I always found amazing jobs in schools that had me worry that if I didn’t have passing students, I would be let go. As a result, my teaching and work always sought out the future. I would say things like when you are “there”… or “‘This’ will lead to ‘this’ success… I was always trying to teach for results that would secure my future, and my students. But, apart from my career, I also caught myself planning my weekends well in advance… booking myself up solid. I did this so much that with all the pressure, I would break down once a month. Those break downs started as 1-2 day stints. The break downs then grew to 4-5 day stints. Final result was simply a constant nervous panic filled my body. Always worrying about how I would handle the unknown of what’s to come. I finally realised that in my worry of the future, I was failing the present and having to constantly apologize for my pasts.
I took a long time to heal when I got hit last year. That concussion, if you will knocked a great deal of sense back into me. I stopped everything. I slowly started back…. What’s funny though, is at times I feel my old self coming back. I am so much more mindful of it though. Now, I can sit and have a drink with that old self and then tell her to get out.
Mind you, I am still in awe of those around me, and how much they truly see my weaknesses coming, and yet accept me anyways. Case in point, a great leader and colleague of mine was talking about leadership a few weeks back. She called me on my forward thinking approach of working. She actually, in one sentence, summed me up solidly. She’s only really known me since January, and yet by pulling herself back daily, saw right through me. “Tracy, try to live in the here and now. If you do, you’ll appreciate your surroundings even more…”
In everything, leading is not by standing in the front of a crowd, and pointing your finger in directions one should travel. Leading is actually to be with people, taking the situation at hand, and making it a great experience. To get to that great experience, one needs to be an ideas person, a worker, or a cheerleader (etc…). When all things come together from this process, a great appreciation for what just occurred, can then build character. The process of building this character, allows one to look back and appreciate. One can then turn and face forward for the simple….
Here and Now.
Lead by example.