3 reasons why

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Start a Blog (and Why We Ignored Them)

3 reasons why“Sometimes when we dare to walk into the arena, the greatest critic we face is ourselves.”

~Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly

When you finally decide to venture into the arena, you walk a very fine line between courage and panic. Here I am, an almost-leader, thinking I have enough experience about leadership to write about it–and actually hit publish. In the weeks leading up to the start of this journey, the critic inside my head was relentless.

I tried to silence the critic by reminding myself why I am here. I thought about the many hidden leaders in education. I wanted to give them a voice. I was excited by the idea that we could call others to leadership by writing about it as something that absolutely can, and always will be, imperfect. Still, the doubt, fear, and excuses flooded in. It felt easier not to hit publish at all.

It turns out that I was not alone in my self-doubt. When I listened carefully to the dedicated educators around me, I heard things like this:

“There are so many better candidates for that position. I don’t think I’m going to apply.”

“I just don’t feel like what I’m doing is making a difference.”

“I’m not strong enough/smart enough/tall enough to be a leader.”

(Actually, “tall enough” came from me. I’m 4’11 and I used to think this all the time.)

And then a mentor of mine who works outside of the teaching profession shared a confession with me: She said she has always wanted to start her own business, but it was on her “I want to, but I’m too chicken” list. I couldn’t stop thinking about that. How many of us have a list like this? How long are these lists? Why do they even exist?

So many of us feel insecure, inexperienced…and imperfect. Maybe this is the reason so many leaders remain hidden in the first place. There were endless reasons to avoid starting this blog. Here are the three that whisper in my ear the loudest and why I (all of us) should stop listening:

  1. Nobody will read it/approve/support your work/care.

This might be true. However, I like to think of that well-known phrase that was adapted from the movie Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” Except my own personal adaptation goes like this:

If you build it, they might come, and even if they don’t, at least you’ve built something.

Success is about getting started, not about lack of failure. This reminds me of my painfully slow 5K when I first started running. I jogged into the finish line while the race organizers were cleaning up the refreshment table. I was deeply embarrassed by this until a friend noticed my shame. She asked, “Do you know how many people are still sleeping?”

Get started. That’s all that matters.

 Shorten your chicken list: Reframe how you look at criticism. Instead of letting it define you, celebrate the fact that you pushed your limits. You will not get criticized or rejected when you stay inside your comfort zone.

      2.  Your ideas will not inspire others.

Drew Dudley, founder of Everyday Leadership, has a very down-to-earth perspective on what it means to be a leader. His TED talk on Everyday Leadership explains how simple it really is to make a difference. We may be overlooking and devaluing the impact we have on others. He said, “We’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.”

Of those 6 or so billion, you only need to change one. If you can inspire one student to feel like an author, one colleague to try teaching for another year, one administrator to stick with a vision even when it gets difficult, then according to Dudley, “You’ve changed the whole thing.”

Shorten your chicken list: Pull out your “feel good” folder, and if you don’t have one, start one now. Keep every letter of thanks, student card, principal compliment, or parent email that celebrates your everyday leadership. Reread them anytime you need a reminder that inspiring others is not something that is beyond you.

       3.  You might fail.

I used to have this misconception that leaders had all the answers. You have to know what you are talking about. All the time. What does it even mean to know enough, to be good enough? Nobel prize winner physicist, Niels Bohr, defines an expert as “…someone who has made all possible mistakes in one field and there are no more to make.”

I don’t think I’ve heard a more appealing invitation to fail over and over again. If we look at mistakes as the necessary training for expert status, we might stop trying so hard to avoid them.

Shorten your chicken list: Before you take action, predict three potential ways you can fail. Say them out loud, and then ask yourself, “If I make these mistakes, what is the worst that could happen?” The answer to this question might surprise you.

If you wait until you are fully ready for something, you will never get started. This isn’t about creating a blog, being a writer, or even leadership. It’s about starting. Imperfection is guaranteed. Take one thing from your “I really want to but I’m just too chicken” list and do it anyway.

Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do—but haven’t yet? Tell us about it! Your first step starts right now.

 

Ali

Ali

I am a lifelong educator on a mission to start believing in myself. I write to inspire others to abandon perfection and lead anyway. I am attempting this daily at home as a mom with three toddlers in Berlin, Maryland.
Ali

 

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Lead Like A Mother

There is no doubt that mothers are the glue that holds it all together. Perhaps Kelly Corrigan said it best in her novel Glitter and Glue:

“The mother is the most essential piece on the board, the one you must protect. Only she has the range. Only she can move in multiple directions. Once she’s gone, it’s a whole different game.”Lead Like A Mother

Mothers really are the true game changers. You can almost feel the power mothers provide for us all, and for those who are living without their mother—the loss is profound.

These hidden leaders are an infinite source of wisdom on how to lead others with compassion, humility, and love. These qualities don’t always make the list of top leadership traits, but they should. When we started this blog, we wanted to celebrate the raw, unpolished, not-sure-I’m-doing-this-right kind of leadership. The way mothers lead.

Here are three ways to start leading like a mother:

     1. Lead with love.

When it comes down to great leadership, love is always the bottom line. Some of the most successful corporations have built a culture around relationships. This culture is very similar to the way mothers love their children. They love them through setbacks and celebrations; they love and accept flaws without blinking.

I learned the power of this love from my supervisor. She loves the people she leads relentlessly. She clearly sees a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and chooses compassion every single time. Working for her feels like home.

Leaders who love are more likely to see the best in the people around them—and this makes all the difference.

     2. Give the credit away.

Moms are selfless with their children and the thought of taking credit—for anything—never crosses their minds. I watched a mom in my neighborhood clear leaves from her yard while trying to keep her 3-year-old son busy. He got bored after awhile and started placing one leaf at a time in the wheelbarrow. When her husband pulled in the driveway, he complimented the cleared yard. The mom beamed at her son and said with sincerity, “I couldn’t have done this without you!”

While it may come naturally for mothers, leading so selflessly takes a vast amount of humility and self-discipline. It takes a conscious decision-making on the part of the leader to give the credit away.

Humility inspires others to want to be even better. It builds momentum instead of slowing progress. Practice humility in your brightest moments by asking, “Who supported this vision? Who pushed through when it got difficult?”

Here are some ways to give credit (and inspire) others:

We wouldn’t have finished without your help.

You were so important to this project.

I couldn’t have done this without you.

     3.  Forgive yourself.

One of my favorite quotes about motherhood came from writer Donna Ball: “Forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” Motherhood is beautifully messy, and as soon as I embraced this myself, everything started falling into place.

Fear of failure prevents so many people from stepping into leadership and starting the journey. Leadership is about getting started, and we learn so much more when we make mistakes than when we sit around and wait for perfection. Let yourself be imperfect.

If you will be leading others (and we all do, in some way or another), try embracing the qualities of nature’s best nurturer. Love those you lead and empower them with all of the credit. And please, forgive yourself.

Ali

Ali

Ali

I am a lifelong educator on a mission to start believing in myself. I write to inspire others to abandon perfection and lead anyway. I am attempting this daily at home as a mom with three toddlers in Berlin, Maryland.
Ali

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Celebrating Imperfection

Celebrating Imperfection

Someone, at some point, came up with this very bad idea that an ordinary individual couldn’t make a difference in the world. I think that’s just a horrible thing.” —John Skoll

 

What if you could go through each day without replaying every misstep before you fell asleep at night? What if we told ourselves that we were absolutely good enough? What if we could shift the way we view our imperfections?

Our schools and our communities need all educators to see themselves as leaders in some way. As the true gladiators of our time, teachers have an opportunity to embrace leadership while still trying to find their way.  Since when did being a leader mean that you have to have all the answers? It’s time to stop pretending that leadership is reserved for a select few outside of the classroom.

A leader doesn’t need a title, a degree or sign outside their door. A leader hides in all of us. Let’s stop making leadership something bigger than it is. Because when we do that, when we devalue everyday leadership, 99% of us take a step back instead of charging into the arena.

In a culture that demands the impossible, nobody can do this alone. We know that together is better. That’s why we teamed up to write Leading with Imperfection. We wonder what could happen if we remove the burden of perfection and find joy and strength in good enough.

The timing is imperfect. Step into the arena.

 

 

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