I have probably read hundreds of articles and/or books on change. Many have been about changes in leadership others about personal changes. Some of those have centered on why change can be healthy. Others have focused on the importance of change in and organization. A couple have dealt with how to withstand change or even to adapt or thrive when it is happening.
Some colleagues that I greatly respect have an uncanny ability to cite evidence from various researchers or authors on the drop of a dime. Dave Stuart and Anne Kostus can do that mid-sentence and not even flinch. I greatly admire that about them and others. However, I’ve found that my writing style tends to be a bit different from that. While I consider myself to be an avid reader, I’ve also realized that my voice on this blog tends to speak more from personal experience and conversations with colleagues, not as much citing the work of others. Not that one is better or worse, but even at age 40 I’m still finding my voice as a writer.
So this entry is going to be about change…but centered around my personal perspective and current life circumstances.
My family and I are knee deep in change. A change personally and professionally. We are leaving the place we’ve called home for the past 15 years and I have left the district where I’ve worked for the last 18. The change impacts my kids as they go to a new school, my wife as she expands her business to a new location, and with me the school I walk into everyday.
Many times on this blog I’ve shared that I believe education is the profession that is most closely tied to people and relationships. Relationships with students, fellow staff members, parents, and the community. The quote from the first picture has had me thinking for weeks, “One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they give up, instead of what they have to gain.” That quote, and this experience, has led me to 3 main takeaways involving change.
1. I am growing as an educator because of this change. I have learned so much from graduate courses, quality literature, daily Twitter followings, MEMSPA membership and conferences, cohort groups, and so many other avenues. However, I learn the most from hands-on experiences with other leaders. I was surrounded by amazing teachers and administrators during my first 18 years in education. I learned so much from them. Those influences and mentors have molded me into the educator I am today. However, a new system, new peers, new district office administrators, new students, and new teachers, have made me better as a principal almost immediately. They have provided me with a new line of thinking, different methods to attack similar challenges, and fresh ideas. It has made me reflect and fine tune what I value, why I value it, and what value it holds. The expanding of new horizons, the thinking and ideas of new teammates, and the refining of my beliefs, is making me a better educator and a better leader. Every day. I can feel it.
2. I am growing from change as a person. It is really similar to so many of the reasons I listed above. I have had to step out of my comfort zone, push my limits, and adapt to new surroundings. It is possible to miss the place you have left and love the place where you have arrived. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Be content with a world that involves both of those as valid.
3. Embracing the change will allow you to move forward. Those undergoing changes can get swept up in the undercurrent of their past location or experience. You can get lost in the sorrow, the sadness, and sometimes the negativity. I would argue that it is not only healthy, it is necessary, to embrace the new and move on from much of the old. Embrace it with a positive attitude and outlook. Embrace it by disassociating yourself with pieces of the past. If you are still wrapped up in life’s circumstances from before the change, you might fool yourself for awhile, but in the end, you really haven’t embraced the change. What you’ve done is limit your ability to grow from your new situation.
Don’t be afraid of change. Embrace it. You will grow in your profession and as a person. Expand the circle of those who influence you. Grow from new relationships. You will be better for it.