For a school principal, the beginning of August often signals the restart of being in the “new school year” mode. It’s a time for reflection, goal setting, and planning. A time to refine the educational projects we plan to do with our students, their parents, and our staff.

It’s also a time when our positive energy level is high, where we are filled with hope and optimism – a good feeling. It reminds me of the theme song of the series Happy Days (going a few years back in time!): now isn’t that a feel good song?

cheerful close up coffee cup
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A recent conversation with the owners of a local business made me think of the sustainability of this positive energy, this “good feeling” throughout the school year. Among other things, we discussed the short- and long-term impacts that negative situations or people can have on a leader. We also discussed strategies to help us stay positive.

So, at the dawn of a new school year, how can a leader ensure the sustainability of his positive energy against the challenges that will arise? This is an important question to reflect on, because a leader can not add value to others if his own positive energy reserve is empty!

Do Not Make It Personal

When we face a difficult situation, especially when it is indirect, we may feel that we are targeted or personally attacked. For example, when we put a lot of time, energy, and passion behind an initiative, and some people do not jump on or even criticize it, it’s not easy to accept! The immediate result is often an emotional reaction: “They are grinding my gears!”, “They do not like me!”, “They do not want to see me succeed!” Have you ever felt like that? This state of mind can quickly sap our positive energy.

In this kind of situation, as much as we can say that it’s only human to react that way, we need to shake off our ego and regain our momentum. We must quickly move toward solutions because solutions nourish, while resentment consumes our positive energy. It is important to recognize our negative emotions, but it is even more important not to linger too long on them.

We must quickly move to solutions because solutions nourish, while resentment consumes our positive energy.

“Do not make it personal ” is often easier said than done. It is a strategy that I continue to work on and develop: to calm down the rancorous voice as quickly as possible in order to adopt a growth mindset.

Share with a mentor or coach

Occupying a leadership position often creates a sense of isolation. We think that we are alone in our struggles. We do not have time to talk about it with our colleagues, nor do we want to add to their already full plate. And we certainly do not want to bother them with negative issues. So we face our challenges alone.

Mistake!

What people do not realize is that many of our colleagues are thinking the same thing! It is a self-destructive cycle based on assumptions. We must get rid of this way of thinking! Leadership is a TEAM sport.

My greatest moments of growth were created during exchanges with a colleague. Not only does this person guide me, but they provide an objective point of view, and ask me questions that force me to consider options outside my comfort zone. And that’s where real growth occurs!

Leadership is a TEAM sport.

Find a mentor or coach, a person who knows you well, whom you will meet regularly. Add appointments to your calendar, be intentional in your growth! Set goals, talk about what’s going on at work, or even in your personal life if you wish. Here is an interesting article that deals with research on the importance of leadership coaching.

Inspire each other: take the time to fill your positive energy tank.

“Water the flowers …”

Throughout my career as a leader, I’ve experienced some difficult situations with individuals. These experiences brought me to the realization that a leader can not decide for another person that change is needed for the better.

A person can only change if they sincerely accept the change.

I am an optimistic person. I believe in each person’s potential, and that’s why I’m always ready to support them anytime, anywhere. However, as a leader I realize that it is important to put my energy where I have an influence, and can make an impact.

When a person is not willing to accept change, I can empty my energy tank day after day, without having an influence or a positive impact on that individual. This situation is not healthy. In such a case, a leader should make sure that support is always available for that person, and that the person knows that his leader will always be there for him or her. However, it is important to choose where you will focus your energy in order to achieve a successful harvest.

However, as a leader I realize that it is important to put my energy where I have an influence, and can make an impact.

How will you ensure the sustainability of your positive energy throughout the 2018-2019 school year?