Becoming a Learner of Yourself

Learning about yourself is the number one way you can prepare yourself to take on principalship and continuously grow as a leader.  It develops self-awareness, which is critical for navigating situations with others.  If you, as the principal are “dealing” with a situation with adults, you have to know yourself because the way YOU respond or react can and most times will determine the outcome.  By being aware of your go-to reactions, thoughts, feelings, and going further—your strengths and weaknesses in these areas—you can make conscious efforts to improve your leadership skills and build stronger relationships with your staff.

Being a learner of yourself starts with paying attention to yourself and your thoughts, emotions, and reactions. This self-awareness can be cultivated through practices such as journaling or regular reflection.  It might look like taking time to reflect on your leadership values and how they showed up throughout the day. 

Here’s an example of how you could do this:

  1. Decide on an area of your leadership, things that you do regularly, or situations that are important to you to focus on.  Just pick 1 or 2 or maybe you want to start paying attention when you are feeling triggered. 
  2. Set your intention. Once you have the situation in mind, like if you decided to take note of yourself when you are having your post evaluation conferences this week with teachers, make a note in your planner, set an alarm in your phone, or place a sticky on your desk to remind yourself to pay attention during the event and reflect after.  I’ve begun carrying a small notebook to pay attention to when I get triggered and just seeing the notebook reminds me of my intention. 
  3. Ask yourself, what happened? Describe the situation.  Who you were with, the time of day, where you were, your thoughts, feelings, your response.  I just made a 5-column chart in my notebook labeled:

      Date/Time, Environment, Thoughts, Feelings, Response

      The goals are to first to develop your self-awareness, then to see if any patterns emerge.  This will eventually enable you to get a sense for how you think, feel, and respond to different situations.

      Then you can dig deeper into perhaps the why, and then you can decide if there are ways you would like to change how you respond.  You can create a vision for how you want to respond in situations and then be intentional about how you go about making that vision a reality.  

      How long this takes really depends on the person and how self-aware you were when you started.  But if you ready to take on the next step, check out episode one, Effective Leadership:  Redefining Success, on my Imagine.Believe.Achieve. podcast.


      Leadership is Learning:  Being a Learner of People

      Leadership is Learning is a mindset that is CRITICAL to adopt for your success and sanity.  In my latest podcast episode, Leading WELL: The Leadership is Learning Mindset, we dig into what this really means for you and what it looks like by applying the Leadership is Learning mindset to three main areas.  This post will focus on one of these three areas:  Being a Learner of People.  

      First, why does having a Leadership is Learning mindset even matter? Why is having this mindset an important foundation of effective and balanced school leadership? 

      If you see your leadership as being a continuous journey of learning, you not only will enjoy personal benefits for your own growth, but you will see benefits that will trickle to your whole community.  You will be modeling a mindset advantageous for your teachers to practice, and you will be resilient when you experience setbacks or failures.  Also, if your community sees you as believing you don’t have all the answers, they will know that you are open to their ideas. This is especially important if you value creativity and innovation in your school.  

      A Learner of People

      Being a Learner of People is about learning how to lead your staff in human resource management—like holding people accountable, having difficult conversations, handling conflict, etc.  This area was a huge eye-opener for me. I assumed if I were clear about my personal expectations, collaborated in developing our operating procedures and norms, and then supported people, I wouldn’t have to spend much time on management or supervisory kinds of things.  I quickly realized that I had to spend a lot more time than I anticipated learning how to manage and supervise adults and that NOTHING in college EVER prepared me for that.  I had no choice but to enter this part of my school leadership completely open and willing to learn. 

      Here’s an example of how this might play out when holding people accountable:  I had to learn how I would handle situations when people needed to leave school early.  I knew it was important to me that I acted in a way that honors these values: family comes first, people are human, and we all have lives outside of school.  However, we had 300 children to take care of.  I learned as situations arose that I could honor both my values and our responsibilities by adopting a Yes, AND response. YES, I will be understanding and accommodating AND I need you to be responsible.  For example, if someone needed to run a child to the doctor, leave early for some reason, etc. my standard practice was to say, “Yes, and how are you getting your class covered?” or “Yes, and where can we find your plans?” 

      This response just kind of happened through trial and error.  I started out by just saying yes, but then trying to take care of the everything myself caused annoyance and undo stress.

      By keeping a mindset that you are a learner of people, you can allow these situations to be learning opportunities for you instead of irritations.  Instead of jumping to, “and now I’m going to have to find coverage.  There goes my afternoon,” you approach the situation as a learner.  You ask questions and assume the other person will be a part of the solution.

      If you buy into the belief that you are a continual learner of your staff and that you will learn how to handle situations as they arise, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to prepare.   Before you even land in a leadership position, you can get clear on your personal philosophy, values, and your boundaries. If you have already been a principal for a while, it’s never too late to go back and reflect.  In fact, you can take the situations that have happened, reflect on those, and think about if the way you handled them reflects your values and boundaries.  If you find that reflecting on the way you handled a situation brings up discomfort and unease, it might be a good one to focus on.   You can think, “Next time, if I were to approach this situation as a learner, what questions could I ask so that I can learn the best action to take?”

      One incredible resource for working with staff came from a surprising source: Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. This book introduced me to the powerful concept: everyone is doing the best they can.  If you can take on this perspective, I promise you, you will have more peace in your life.  Let’s just say you have a teacher who once again, is out sick and has not left lesson plans, even though you have made this expectation ABUNDANTLY clear. 

      When I was in the principal seat, I did not have this “everyone is doing the best they can” perspective.  I certainly did not think this person was doing the best she could—far from it.  So, my default reactions in the absence of thinking she was doing her best was incredible irritation, blame, hurt, aggravation, anger, etc.  While these feelings can be personally validating, those emotions did NOTHING to help me be a better leader, and coming at her with those emotions did nothing to help her be better at her job. 

      If I had assumed that this person was doing the best she could, I would have had a completely different perspective.  Taking on this assumption gets me out of an emotional state and shifts me into “what can we do to make this situation better?”  Instead of shooting off an angry email asking her to meet me in my office to talk about the situation, I might calmly go down to her classroom and address the situation more like this:

      Hey, Ms. So and So, we had a tough day yesterday…your teammates and me.  We have the expectation that everyone will have sub plans for the week in the Google Folder, plus a sub folder in the office.  We couldn’t find yours. What happened? 

      Do you see how taking on the perspective that she is doing the best she can is helpful for you and her?  As you can see in the scenario, this didn’t erase accountability for her actions, but removed the emotion from the situation. 

      Being a learner of people is an area we can get much more in depth with, but for now I want to leave you with a couple of key points:

      1. It’s helpful for your come to a point of acceptance that staff management and supervision is a HUGE part of your job and that seeing yourself as a learner of people can be very supportive to your mental health. If you see yourself as a learner of your staff, you can learn to see each conflict, aggravation, unmet expectation, or let down as an opportunity for you to learn about people and how to help them be the best version of themselves.
      2. Taking on the perspective of “everyone is doing the best they can,” not only will help  you to not get so aggravated and react with anger, but will also help you support the person in resolving the issue and be better.  

      Ultimately, having the Leadership is Learning mindset is about taking responsibility for your own growth and development. By paying attention to yourself and what develops into your leadership style, you can lead with authenticity and self-awareness, creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Check out Episode 10, Leading WELL: The Leadership is Learning Mindset of my Imagine.Believe.Achieve Podcast for more on the Leadership is Learning mindset.

      Strategies and Mental Tools for Carrying the Leadership Load

      Last week I kicked off our Leading W.E.L.L. series with a personal story of the struggles I went through my first couple of years as a principal and how I dealt with the stress in ways that weren’t exactly healthy. I promised that in my next post I would dive deeper into the “W” of Wellness by sharing strategies and mental tools for carrying the “leadership load.”

      The Spiritual Anchor

      The first thing I challenged you to do was to identify your spiritual anchor. By this, I meant a practice you would do every morning to connect with God or your spirit. For me, this was a devotion, for others it might be meditation, yoga, prayer, or some combination of practices. Doing this will maximize any of the tools and strategies that mental health experts recommend. It might sound like I am suggesting that you use your spirituality to get what you want. Like control or manipulation…I am not suggesting that at all, but finding techniques to make my spirituality tangible has been essential to handling the stress of leadership.

      Starting your day with a spiritual practice is nothing new, but it can be difficult to get in the habit of doing one consistently. This is where a morning routine comes in. Check out Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, Michael Hyatt’s Daily Rituals for more on this. I found episode #33, Four Rituals That Make You Super Productive, in Hyatt’s Business Accelerator podcast incredibly helpful. This podcast addresses gives practical advice on how to make a morning routine work for any situation. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have to go into work as early as I did when I was a principal so I can go through a 30 minute routine when I first wake up. However, when I was a principal, I had to be in work by 7:00 and had a 30 minute commute. I wasn’t about to wake up any earlier than necessary and was able to incorporate a morning routine without sacrificing sleep. Let me show you how it worked for me…

      So, when I was a principal, my morning routine happened after I got to work and was only about 10 minutes. I would listen to my devotion (through the First 15 Podcast) during my commute and then my goal was to go through the same 15 minute routine every morning when I hit my desk. (I combined what Hyatt refers to as a morning routine and a workday start up routine into one routine. Listen to episode #33 for more info on this). So, I would get to school, sit down at my desk and open up a “daily page.” At the time, I used a bullet journal format and wrote out my mission statement, an intention, and my 3 most important things (MITs) for the day in that journal. I would end the routine by writing a positive note to 3 staff members. I did all of this before I touched my email. I very intentionally planned actions for my routine that would start me in a positive mindset. Regardless of how you can fit this daily ritual in, having a consistent morning routine allows you to prepare yourself so that you can bring the best version of you to do life that day.

      Having a consistent morning routine allows you to prepare yourself so that you can bring the best version of you to do life that day.

      Once you have your morning routine in place, I caution against making the same mistake I did: As I struggled in difficult situations, I wondered why God wasn’t helping me after I “put in the time” that morning. I would encounter tough situations and would either react in ways that weren’t helpful or feel completely powerless and personally victimized by the situation. I eventually realized I needed some mental tools and strategies to reconnect me to my anchor in the moment so that I could get out of my “fight or flight” mode.

      Pausing and Seeking Help in the Moment

      Reading The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein was a game-changer for me. Bernstein offered me practical tools for what to do in the midst of those intense moments and also a way to mentally frame what I was going through. While many would consider Gabby’s tools to be self-help or new age, I applied them to my Christian perspective and found them to be helpful in nudging me to pray in the moment. Here’s what I came up with from her book:

      My Plan:

      1. If I got triggered–a stressful or irritating situation would happen and I would feel anxiety, anger, or overwhelm.
      2. First, I would stop. I would pause and slow down my breathing. Then I would pray. (I would stop and ask for help).
      3. Next, I would surrender the fear or negative feelings I had, and asked for help in responding with love.

        I think the biggest challenge I had and still have is pausing–stopping myself in the moment and making myself use my tools, instead of just trying to escape the moment or making it end because it’s too uncomfortable or painful. Or lately, I don’t stop when I get triggered because I keep thinking I need to just “get the task done” and that I just need to push through, because I have too much to do.

      I think that making yourself stop comes with practice. It’s like a muscle you need to exercise so that you create that muscle memory. Once you stop, you can use breathing exercises, get yourself regulated and then be open to returning in love. That’s my plan, anyway. Let’s see if I can put that into practice! Want to practice with me? Get your PAUSE Cheat Sheet HERE.

      Adopting A Supportive Perspective or Mental Framework

      I think there’s a lot of information available since the pandemic on self-regulation, breathing exercises, returning to the present, and getting out of fight or flight, but I still think that leaves the question, “Then what?? Once, I’ve calmed myself down, how do I get through it? Then, how do I keep from going home and comforting myself with food or alcohol to keep the worry at bay for what the next day would bring?”

      This is where a way to mentally frame what I was going through came in. Bernstein teaches this as the universal lesson:

      The world is your classroom and people are your assignments.

      Gabrielle Bernstein.

      She writes, “The first step is to witness that what may seem to be a terribly uncomfortable situation is actually a Universal Assignment.” Just taking on this perspective allowed me to step back and ask myself, “What I am I learning through this?” Sometimes that was very difficult to answer. As I used this mental framework to consider situations, I changed the questions depending on the circumstance. It might be, “What am I learning about myself?” or “How can I show up as a good leader/listener/supporter in this situation?” My work in therapy also supported this thinking. My therapist encouraged me to think about the future and how I wanted to coach and help principals one day. She said to see these situations as field research and I was learning strategies for dealing with them so I could help others later.

      Feeling Your Feelings

      Here’s the part that was and still is the greatest challenge for me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. I want to numb or comfort tough feelings with food or alcohol. I have a lot of theories about why I am like this including my Enneagram Type (7), family dynamics in childhood, yada, yada…but regardless, avoiding pain and tough emotions is my jam. Unfortunately, I am also concerned about my appearance so emotional eating and drinking do not serve me well.

      I don’t have quick answers for this, because I still struggle with it. Recently, I thought I had gotten past those bad habits. My new position is much more supportive of employee wellness and has significantly less stress, so I thought that when the stress came, I would better be able to handle it without my old bad habits. However, I realized after I couple of stressful weeks, I still default back to my old patterns of stress-eating and drinking.

      Here’s where I think the answer lies: I have to see the the strategies of Pausing and Seeking Help in the Moment, and Adopting a Supportive Perspective or Mental Framework as ways to feel my feelings, process them, and stay with them–NOT just get past them so that I can respond the the situation effectively and efficiently and move on. I think that when I feel the urge to turn to external sources of comfort, it’s a signal that I haven’t processed my feelings and need to stop. I think this involves tools like journaling, affirmations, self-talk, etc. Those aren’t always possible in the moment, but I need to incorporate some type of processing at some point, before I head to the kitchen–if I don’t want to engage in that behavior anymore.

      Obviously, I haven’t mastered these tools. I had been posting and podcasting consistently once a week since the first week of January then the last two weeks of increased stress and busyness went by without a post or podcast — how ironic. I can blame my lack of publishing content on the busyness, but I think it was more about feeling imposter syndrome. Who am I to try to help people with something I haven’t mastered myself?

      I had a little epiphany today.

      As I went about my morning routine, I came across some content in The Fabulous App related to self-love…

      “ Self-love creates space for you to be exactly who you are, rather than the carefully curated version of yourself you wish you were.” 

      I need to practice what I am preaching regarding Adopting a Supportive Perspective or Mental Framework. I don’t need to wait until I have all this figured out. We can help each other by going through this together. I would like to adopt the supportive perspective that I can help others through my struggles and my journey, not by having all the answers. I don’t have to walk out front with the answers–we can walk alongside each other with the struggle.

      So, to close this, I am extending an invitation. Let’s learn to carry the leadership load together. Let’s start a community of education leaders who are trying to thrive while doing hard things. I don’t have all the answers, but I am happy to share what I have learned and invite you to do the same. We can learn from our successes and missteps. If you want a partner on your journey, please follow me on Instagram: lizerwinimagine or on Facebook at Imagine Believe Achieve.

      Carrying the Load of Leadership

      “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

      Lena Horne in Wisdom for the Soul

      When I first took the principal’s seat I remember thinking on quite a few days, “Why did I want to be a principal so badly? This is awful!” I remember, in particular, a conversation with my superintendent. He called to check on me one day, and I said, “Well, let me tell you how great my day was. I had to go to the gynecologist, and that was the highlight of my day.” I think it’s hilarious now that I said that, but oh my gosh…it really was a cry for help… wanting someone to understand what I was going through.

      My first two years, I never knew what chaos each day would bring. I was dealing with several very difficult emotional/behavioral situations with students and mental health issues with their parents. Each day I would never know if I would get spit on or kicked by a student, sued, or cussed by a parent, or maybe just be defamed on the local news. (All of these happened way too frequently those first years). I had no assistant principal or behavioral support, so I had to have direct involvement in every behavior escalation while trying to figure out how to lead a school. The intensity and frequency of these situations consumed me and took a toll on my mental and physical health.

      After my first two years, I had stopped exercising, found myself “eating my feelings,” drinking a bottle of wine each night, and as a result, gained almost 40 pounds with my cholesterol level skyrocketing to over 300.

      So. that was the load–the load of leadership–and how it weighed me down, almost crushing me.

      My third year, we had a new special education director who provided “boots on the ground” support for my school through the creation of a Highly Structured Program environment and the allocation additional staff. We hired an incredible special education teacher for our students with moderate to severe disabilities and a new guidance counselor who lead our school in creating MTSS structures and supports. So, we finally had systems in place to both prevent behavior escalation and effectively manage it, if it did happen.

      Then that March, just as I was getting my feet under me, with an afternoon’ s notice, we sent all of our students home for what turned out to be the rest of the year because of the Pandemic. It was clear that if it wasn’t one thing, it was going to be something else.

      I felt a lot of shame in how I let my health go.

      It seems really strange to write that now, but it really was shame…I was very ashamed of myself. I felt like the way I was handling or not handling my stress was on display for everyone. I had “let myself go” and everyone knew it. I could just hear what people were saying about me in all the self-hatred that I inflicted. Even now I am embarrassed about (at least my language is more gentle towards myself–embarassed instead of ashamed, thank you, Brene Brown) how much my appearance mattered to me and still does. I feel very superficial to be so worried about it, but that’s a conversation for another day. Bottom line is the self-judgement needs to stop. I finally recognize that fact.

      This shame came out in conversations with a therapist. I started seeing her about midway through my first year. I’ll never forget, our first appointment was the evening that our school was on the local news after a parent felt the need to share a stream of lies regarding our handling of a situation with her child. When asked what I hoped to get out of therapy, I remember sharing that I had to be successful in this job. I couldn’t quit, but I couldn’t continue with the misery I was feeling. I needed help liking my job so that I could continue in it. No matter how I badly I wanted to find ways to deal with the stress that were healthy, like exercising and not consuming junk food and wine, by the end of the day I was spent. I had no room for discipline and just sought comfort. I needed help with carrying the load.

      During my time as a principal, I felt like there was very little attention given to the mental and emotional support leaders need. Especially during the pandemic, I felt a sense of responsibility for making sure my teachers were taken care of, but that no one was taking care of me.

      “What about the principals?” I wondered, “What about us? Does anyone care how this is affecting us?”

      Every once in a while I see something about the importance of supporting school leaders, but it seems like those instances are the exception more than the rule. Now that I am no longer in the principal seat, I want to try to change that. I want to share ideas tools, and strategies that I sought out and learned from a variety of sources. This post kicks off my Leading W.E.L.L series. Today we start with the “W” which, you guessed it, stands for WELLNESS. My next post will dive into this topic, but I’d like to leave you with homework.

      If this post resonates with you–if you need strategies and mental tools for “carrying your leadership load”– the first thing I challenge you to do is to identify your spiritual anchor. By anchor, I mean that spiritual element that gives you strength. Is it God? Your higher power? the universe? Jesus? This job is way too hard to go it alone. Personally, I need me some Jesus. every. single. day. So let’s say you are on board with this. You are all in and you have identified your spiritual anchor.

      Next, you will want want to figure out a way to anchor yourself every morning. I anchor myself with a devotional. Just doing this may not be enough to get you through your day on those super tough ones when you get kicked in the shins non-stop (metaphorically or literally). It wasn’t enough for me just to have a morning practice, but it provided the foundation (anchor) for dealing with stressful situations. I also found it helpful to include meditation in my anchoring time and found a great resource that incorporated the devotional and guided meditation: First 15. This podcast/app provides a different short devotional each day l followed by a guided meditation/reflection, and even an uplifting song. I would listen to this on my drive to work and then take just a minute or so when I got in the office to write down an intention for the day.

      So, go do you your homework. Figure out or identify how you are going to anchor yourself each morning, then meet me back here next week for what to do next.

      Releasing Yourself from Expectations

      I just found a quote in a journal (I had written it in all caps) from January 2018 that reads, “MOVE FORWARD, RELEASED FROM THE PRISON OF EXPECTATIONS.” Nearby on the page is a quote that I attributed to Glennon Doyle, so maybe this one also came from her? I am not sure, but what I do know is that it’s hitting right now. A couple of Sundays ago, I was meal-prepping or getting ready to workout, or some other kind of activity that I felt I “should” be doing and wondered out loud, “why do I always feel the need to be doing something?” I wonder who else suffers from this…

      The “prison” is definitely one of my own making. I believe I wrote that the same month I started seeing a therapist. I was dealing with some extremely difficult situations at school in addition to just trying to learn to be a principal. In my first year as a principal I kept the same level of high expectations I had for myself to be a great leader and top-notch in every other area of my life (home, family, health) as I would if I had been a principal for years. Looking back now, I see how this expectation is the one that created additional stress beyond the circumstances themselves.

      I felt like the very traits that make me good at my job are the same ones that make me drive myself crazy.

      This “prison” is not exactly perfectionism. I just have this drive that I have to do everything 100 percent, full out, and be at my personal best in all areas. It’s not that I have to execute everything perfectly, but I expect myself to always be working toward my personal best.

      This wondering of “why I always feel the need to be doing something” spiraled into a week of no workouts and a couple of nights of Netflix binging with a bottle of wine per binge. hmmm. Interesting.

      Here’s the good news. After that week, I can see that I have made some progress in my thinking since 2018. I didn’t mentally berate myself for taking a break. Instead I tried to “Ted Lasso” my behavior by looking at it with curiosity instead of judgement. (You Ted Lasso fans know what I mean) 🙂 So that’s progress! So after that, I wondered if I needed to look at what I consider balance a little differently.

      Before, my definition of balance meant that I was able to balance all aspects of my life, doing each area with equal gusto, effort, and success. Great Mom and Great Leader, in Great Shape, and Spiritually Sound, Ummm…just writing that now makes me realize how silly that is. Now I think, “I need to rest.” period. whatever that looks like. (Lately for me, that’s one Netflix episode and one glass of wine). Of course with my personality I felt the need to schedule these periods of rest, put expectations on them, and make them part of a routine (insert eyeroll emoji here). Oh, well.


      maybe Glennon?

      I can see how loosening my grip on myself can actually move me forward…I am actually making more progress with my health and fitness habits in the weeks following my week off than I did previously. At any rate, I wonder if anyone else can see themselves in this scenario. If so, I’d love to hear from you!

      Effective Leadership: Redefining Success

      We all want to be effective–especially as education leaders. We want to “do a good job.” We want to feel successful, like we are “making a difference,” but how do you know you are successful at the end of each day? What does personal achievement look like once you have gotten the leadership job or position you have always wanted? How do you define success? How you answer these questions in your own context is not only important for your self-worth, but also for your success in your position.

      As an elementary principal without an assistant, each day’s agenda was often derailed by events beyond my control. My first year, behavior events, impromptu parent meetings or meetings that started with, “do you have a minute?” ruled my day. Even though I spent three years as an assistant principal, I was unprepared for the burden of responsibility that came with being THE principal. As an AP I could set my own agenda with intentionality. Emergencies and impromptu meetings were most-often handled by the principal, not me, so many days were completed as planned.

      Once I had the main seat, however, I realized that there were many situations that would arise to alter my plans. When I defined success by the amount I “got done,” I considered most days a failure, or I would spend too much time in the office instead of “out in the building.” Measuring success by the extent to which I achieved my plans or completed my list was neither valuable nor attainable.

      After listening to Daniel Bauer on the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast, my perspective shifted. I learned that how I showed up for my team and my school was the most important definition of success for me. I learned to define a successful day in terms of how I show up as a leader rather than how many items I was able to check off my todo list.

      That’s all well and good, right? Everyone knows that how you show up for your students and community is where it’s at, but for many of us, we can’t show up fully present with a mountain of tasks waiting for us in our offices. Or if we are able to be fully present 7:30-4:30, ignoring the emails and the administrative tasks, then our days don’t end until after 8:00 in the evening. That’s not sustainable or healthy. I would be completely remiss if I ignored this reality and did not mention that without an efficient and effective system for dealing with office work, our lives lack balance. But that is a post for another day. Today we are going to focus on three steps for redefining success.

      Step One: Begin with the end in mind

      This step is a process* that can be done at any time, whether you are in the leadership position of your dreams or not. It’s all about learning, self-awareness, and reflection.

      1. Decide that at the end of the day you will ask yourself this question: How was I _______in the _________? In the first blank you fill in a trait and in the second blank, the situation.
      2. Brainstorm all the situations you find yourself in on a daily basis to fill in the second blank (meetings with parents, conversations with students, observations, administrative tasks, etc.)
      3. Develop a list of “bes,” not “dos.” Think about HOW you want to show up for these situations. These are a list of traits: Compassionate? Present? Calm? Kind? Patient? Decisive? You need to decide what traits, if you exhibit them in your actions will reflect the type of leader you want to be.

      Step Two: Prepare yourself daily to be the leader you want to be

      1. Think about the events on your calendar. Predict potential challenges and how you will handle them.
      2. Decide which traits you want to bring into each situation. Visualize yourself as a success for each event.
      3. Assign actions to the traits. Ask yourself, “How can I be __________ in the meeting? classroom? phone call?”

      Step Three: Fill out your personal “Scorecard”

      1. At the end of every day review your wins. Look at your calendar and/or notes from the day. Ask yourself, How was I ________ in the _________?
      2. Be compassionate with yourself. Take a non-judgmental assessment of your day, thinking about which actions reflected the traits you wanted to exhibit and which ones did not.
      3. Journal your Wins and Ways. Write down and celebrate when you acted in ways that reflect your intentions and make note of ways you can improve.

      Click here to download a free template of the above steps.

      I got these ideas from an incredible education leader, Daniel Bauer, of Better Leaders, Better Schools. His podcast inspired me and helped me understand how to show up as the leader I wanted to be.

      *Edit on January 9th: I realized that while Daniel Bauer was a huge inspiration for this process, the process itself actually came from the podcast 6 Steps toYour Best Year of Leadership on Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast.