Relational Leadership…What are your splinters and gifts?

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I awoke this morning to the beautiful, fresh scent of nature after the rain. You know that feeling when everything is clean and you can sense that the forest is thankful. These kinds of mornings always inspire me to take a fresh look at things. As I drink my coffee and listen to the birds chirping, I recall something that Shelley Green, one of the keynote speakers, said at Short Course last week, “Know everything about you….your splinters and gifts.”  When Shelley introduced herself to the crowd, she did so in a way that gave us a window into Shelley the person, not just Shelley the professional. So,today, as I sit here enjoying the morning, I find my self thinking about a list of words that speak to who I am. The list that I have come up with, in this moment is:

  • family time
  • laughter
  • Newfoundland
  • British Columbia
  • ocean
  • sunsets
  • boots
  • books
  • a great bottle of red wine
  • picnics
  • the sound of crashing waves

Self knowledge is integral in one’s success as an educator and an educational leader. It is not until you realize who you are that you can be a success. You need to acknowledge “…your splinters and your gifts”. So many times, throughout the day, challenges arise and you need to meet them head on. I have lived this, particularly this past year, my first year as an Administrator in an Alternate School. I had no experience in the Alternate School and no experience as an Administrator and I found myself walking into the school in September with the feeling of excitement that accompanies a new challenge but more than a little scared at the same time. I was given very good advice by my Superintendent, she told me that I would need to …” spend a lot of time listening, building relationships, and above all else, trust yourself.” Those last two words were very powerful, and I admit that I struggled sometimes with these but as I moved through the year I gained more confidence and I started to feel more comfortable.I learned to check in with myself regularly. It was also beyond helpful, that my husband gave me encouragement on those tough days when I needed it most.

Another important lesson that Shelley discussed was that you need to choose your words very carefully, ” Every word you speak is a critical word.” Whether you are speaking to a student, parent, colleague, or any number of people that you meet throughout your day, always take pause to select your words carefully, words can have a deep impact and you want that impact to be a positive one. There are going to be days when you feel a sense of great urgency but do not allow that urgency to control you, check in with yourself and bring yourself to that place of calmness which is required, “be rock solid” as Shelley would say. Then, when the storm passes, give yourself license to, privately, “take your turn.”

I could go on and on about all the things I learned from Shelley Green but the things I know for sure are that, she inspired me and made me ponder on my own splinters and gifts.

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