Proud principal at Los Lunas High School.
Positivity in Principals is More Than a Good Feeling
Principal Perspectives #5, February 4, 2019
Great leaders aren’t made by the “right” degrees or skills. A person can have the best qualifications and education but care nothing about a cause. People rally around leaders who are passionate about an organization’s mission, remain positive despite challenges, and personally care about their followers. But remaining passionate and positive over time is much easier said than done. Even the most enthusiastic leaders can be worn down by the constant stream of problems they face and lose momentum.
One key to staying positive is keeping firmly in mind the reason why you chose to go into education.
The Principal Perspective
“I was eligible to retire. Instead, I took on the challenge of a high school. People regularly ask why. I say, because I’m having too much fun to stop.” – Robert Abney
The saying is true: if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
The most effective leaders know that they have to be intentional about staying positive. Maintaining a “glass half full” attitude doesn’t happen on its own.
It seems that human beings have a natural tendency to focus on the negative: things that went wrong (or may go wrong), low performers, unmet expectations, flaws, and so on. But focusing on negative thoughts magnifies them until they obscure everything else.
Effective leaders make a conscious effort to focus on the good things that happen each day—however small—so that those positive thoughts are amplified instead.
Focus on Potential
Another key to staying positive is focusing on potential. Leaders can see things—and people—not for what they are right now but for what they can be.
Made my day. Why I do what I do. #LeadLAP pic.twitter.com/o09XM1Im2e
— Robert Abney (@abney45) October 24, 2018
The right encouragement, support, or even just a friendly shove in the right direction can make an enormous impact. Sometimes it can determine the rest of a student’s life.
You may not always see the effect. The result often doesn’t materialize until months or years after a student has left your sphere. But the rare times you see the difference you made, it serves as a reminder that every struggle, challenge, and obstacle is worth it.
A Principal’s Passion is Contagious
A leader’s passion is contagious. When you build connections by getting to know your team, you build a camaraderie that drives everyone to do their best work. Your excitement spreads to the team, energizing their efforts and spreading to the students you all serve.
The Principal Perspective
“My students and staff see my passion for what I do daily. That passion is the foundation of the work we do daily.” – Robert Abney
It’s easy to get bogged down by budget shortfalls, graduation rates, test scores, “difficult” students, and the systematic problems that plague the education system as a whole.
But if you stay intentional, remember the reason why you chose a path in education, and cultivate the potential in others, you’ll build connections with people that stoke your passion and inspire others to be at their best.
Connect with Robert on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter @abney45
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