My youngest daughter is completing her first semester of college and is off to a wonderful start. My wife and I moved her in the Thursday before school started and then rushed back to Texas as we both had opening day for our two schools that next Monday. The timing was tough to be gone from my campus – the whole last week before school started. Thoughts of “how will we be ready?” or “how will I know we’ll be ready?” naturally crossed my mind. However it was brief as the strength of my leadership team was evident and I absolutely remain in awe of the professional spirit my teachers bring toward their preparation. We were going to be fine and so I was able to focus on my daughter. Removing my principal hat and donning my dad cap, I soaked up the hours in the car as we traveled across state lines. I pushed the cart with patience as we made that last minute run to Target. And I tried my best to carefully unpack and hang correctly a variety of pictures, lights, and shelves on the wall. The best element through it all was that I was able to be present with her.
Emma was three years old when I became a principal so this life is all she really has known. My family understands the gig I signed up for and they have always been supportive. At the same time there have definitely been sacrifices and I have to admit other times where my mind was split between the present and the school. I don’t love that but its true. Yet that week I was pretty much all in. And she knew it.
This is my 16th year as a secondary principal with the last 8 years at Bellaire HS and I know that I have had an influence on those I work alongside. And so upon my return in August, as we began our weekly leadership meeting with connections, I was pleased to hear more than one person comment on how smooth the first week went this year, and that it was likely our smoothest in the last few openings. I smiled and remarked that my being away for a week must have enabled them to really get everything done. We all laughed…yet it wasn’t a joke.
I have heard others remark that sometimes a leader needs to “just get out of the way” and let people do what needs to be done. Well I learned that going 800 miles away can enable other leaders to remain at their best. Now I don’t plan to regularly take a vacation the week before school opens, but I’m going to mark this one as a win.
What examples can you recall of when you literally or metaphorically got out of the way and the impact of your leadership remained strong (or got stronger)?