I’m sitting in the transit lounge (read: Bar) of Abu Dhabi airport, on my way home from Seoul, Sth Korea where I spent yesterday (I had to think about that) visiting with the school where I will become the Elementary Principal next academic year. The events of the past 48 hours (and the half litre of stunningly delicious Hoegaarten) have caused me to stop and think… and pen this small treatise on being yourself.
I have never been an Elementary Principal before. I have worked with quite a few. Some good. Some bad. Some incredible. I’ve worked as an Elementary Teacher for many years. I’ve Worked with elementary teachers for many, many years. I’ve worked as a member of a school administrative team for a shorter number of years. But… I’ve never been an Elementary Principal.
Last year, when I began flouting my wares to prospective suitors (read: began applying for positions as an Elementary Principal), I felt I was punching above my weight. Hi, I’m Bruce. I’ve never been an Elementary Principal, but if you let me I will give it a shot. Not surprisingly, the number of suitors prepared to give me a shot was overwhelmingly underwhelming. I returned from the job fair in Kuala Lumpur feeling somewhat dejected, questioning my ambition, my creds to make the jump, my desire to even attempt.
I hunkered down, chalked it up to experience and got on with the job of doing my job, which was NOT an elementary principal.
The moons turned, a year passed and I found myself once again contemplating making the jump. I brushed up the CV, penned a solid letter of application, whipped up a “Philosophy of Leadership” (whatever that was) and sent it to a good friend for some feedback. SLAMMED! “Where are YOU?” was the comment that sat me up, splashed water in my face and delivered a swift backhand.
Me? Where am I? What was she talking about? “Be yourself” was the continued summary. “You have a lot to offer, but you have to be YOU. Anyone can talk about passion-for-this and passion-for-that, but no one else can be you.” “Be YOU.”
There are things that are easier done than said, and for me, being ME is one of them. It is very easy for me to BE me. Writing as ME was something I had not really considered in the context of writing job applications. So I did, or at least I tried. It took some effort. I wrote, and deleted, and reread and wrote and deleted and reread and deleted and finally was happy with what was staring at me so sent that off (to my same confidant) who simply replied with “Hello Mr Knox!”
Having just spent a solid 12 hours at the school where next year I will be given the responsibility of leading the Elementary school, I took heed of the advice given me not so long ago, and just focussed on being me. I sat with the Elementary staff and responded to their questions, asked out of a deep concern for the students in their classrooms, the colleagues in their halls and for the development of their school, and tried to be ME.
I think it went pretty well, but then, that’s just ME talking. I know there is a considerable space between what I spoke about yesterday and what I will do on July 2014 when I have to do the walking as well. But if there is anything to be learned from these recent experiences, there are two things. Everyone needs someone to tell them just to be themselves. And there is a certain amount of courage needed to do it.