Recently, I was having a bad day at work.
It wasn't any one thing—it was more just a feeling of being off-kilter. Off my game. I was unsure if my decisions were good ones. I didn't communicate accurately or clearly. I seemed to make people feel frustrated or confused. And on top of all that, I was worn out and had a headache. I was hungry—like, all day long. I wanted to go home, order a big ol’ pizza, eat it sloppily on my couch, and watch stupid TV all by myself.
Since that wasn't an option, I wanted to just walk around and apologize to everyone for totally sucking. Just a general apology: “I’m sorry. That’s all.”
Yeah. I was feeling realllllllllly insecure about my leadership abilities.
Which happens, every now and then. To everyone, perhaps, but certainly for me.
What do I do when it happens?
I call a friend.
I’ve got a handful of colleagues who, like me, are always evaluating their effectiveness in what feels like a constant state of self-reflection. They, too, have days that just don't feel right. So when I call and tell them I’m having a moment, they know what to do. “Hold on a sec,” they say, and I hear them place the phone down and go shut their office door. “Okay,” they say. “What’s up?”
And then I tell them what’s bugging me. They make little reassuring sounds as they listen. They tell me everyone has days they can’t seem to hit a groove, and remind me that working as a leader in a field that involves human beings—young ones, old ones, medium ones—is really tricky to manage sometimes. They tell me I’ll feel better and do better and be better tomorrow. And they are always right.
It’s often stated, accurately, that being a principal can be lonely. And it can. But it doesn’t have to be. Having a little web of people to call can alleviate the loneliness immediately—and keep it from making a bad day that. much. worse.