School leaders inevitably become great problem solvers. However, one of the skills of problem solving is identifying and pinpointing the problem. Our radars are well attuned to identifying areas requiring improvement. Problems that need to be fixed. Weaknesses that need to be addressed. Areas with potential for improvement.
Once we have identified a problem we then plan a strategy to address the issue. This process is repeated over and over again until it becomes ingrained in us. We become ‘wired’ to look for the negative because that helps us to be more effective in making a difference.
However, this can ‘wire’ us to be negative. We were initially attracted to work in the education sector because we liked working with people and in particular, helping people. We enjoy making a difference and improving whatever we can. Helping our students learn to read and write, assisting young people to make choices, skilling students for further study or work and equipping our young to be contributing members of the community. Great school leaders are tremendous problem solvers.
As a consequence of developing this ability to detect problems, we are less comfortable celebrating progress and our achievements. Our radar for noticing negative things is far more tuned than our ability to celebrate the positives.
Many educators are uncomfortable when receiving praise. It doesn’t sit well with us. Our demeanor is more likely to be shy and dismissive than proud and boastful. We are less ostentatious when celebrating our achievements. It is important that we take opportunities to reflect on what we have achieved professionally.
I’m not advocating for an over-the-top event filled with high fives and trophies synonymous with real estate agents. However, it is important that we pause and appreciate what we have achieved throughout the year.
Working in schools is demanding. We are constantly changing in response to a changing society and committed to continuous improvement. We are always striving to add more value and make things even better. Each and every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. That is never going to be easy.
As we come to the mid-point of the year, it is vital that we pause at the end to reflect on the distance covered, the progress that we have made and celebrate our achievements.